Murder by Decree

This is not the clear soup the English prefer, it brews up quite a fog in Whitechapel, and that is by way of being the point, if you please.

Quite a mysterium, whores in alleyways preyed upon like a butcher’s yard. Sir Charles Warren warns off Holmes on behalf of the police, a citizens committee of radicals aping tradesmen hire the sleuth.

The strange silence around the case is palpable.

Vivid flashes of delicately-conveyed acting enliven this, great filming on or about Clink Wharf, etc.

Severely degraded and fearful witnesses to a birth of high degree.

Holmes between two stools, right up against it.

“Thus was born the myth of Jack the Ripper.”

From the author of The Offence (dir. Sidney Lumet), among other things.

“The resolution to any Holmes case has never been as important as the chase itself,” thought Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who found this “a good deal of uncomplicated fun.”

“Not entirely successful” (Time Out Film Guide).

For what it’s worth, the Catholic News Service Media Review Office has “this handsome, expensively mounted period piece... preposterous and incredibly untidy plot... harmless”.

Halliwell’s Film Guide chucks it out as “interminably long and unpardonably muddled”.


The American Clock

A boom that loots the poor, a nonexistent prosperity, a blight on the land, real poverty.

The title means “number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

Arthur Miller, for Amblin Television.

In port, the Queen Mary takes on prostitutes.

FDR, WPA. “What can you expect from a country that puts a Frankfurter on the Supreme Court?” Communist marchers. The greatness of New York.

One who saw it go to wrack and ruin having left the market in time.

“What saved the United States” (cp. Christmas Lilies of the Field, dir. Ralph Nelson).

“A touch scattered,” said Walter Goodman of the New York Times, “and it never does make a stimulating connection between America today and in the 1930s”.

Variety thought differently, thought of Terkel and Dos Passos, and said so.