A Study in Terror Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Mill Creek Entertainment
Directed by James Hill
Written by Donald Ford and Derek Ford
1965, 95 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on April 3rd, 2018
John Neville as Sherlock Holmes
Donald Houston as Doctor Watson
John Fraser as Lord Carfax
Anthony Quayle as Doctor Murray
Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade
Barbara Windsor as Annie Chapman
Robert Morley as Mycroft Holmes
Judi Dench as Sally
Police are baffled as the elusive Jack the Ripper continues to strike in the Whitechapel district, murdering prostitutes. It is not until the third woman is killed that the case gains the attention of famed detective Sherlock Holmes. Coincidentally, he receives a strange package in the mail, a medical kit, missing a scalpel. Holmes’ interest is piqued and he is determined to solve the mystery. The case leads him first to a pawn shop, then to the home of an aristocrat and on to a pub populated by prostitutes and to a soup kitchen for the homeless. The Ripper kills again, though Holmes closes in by interviewing potential suspects. Could the murderer be the hot-tempered pub owner or perhaps the local doctor/coroner? The clues come together in an unexpected manner and soon the detective is preparing to confront the killer before he can strike again. Can Sherlock Holmes solve one of England’s most notorious crimes?
A Study in Terror (1965), directed by James Hill (Born Free), is a high-concept picture that pits Sherlock Holmes against Jack the Ripper. It really is just that simple: man versus man in a battle of wits. Written by Donald Ford (Corruption) and Derek Ford (Don’t Open ‘til Christmas), A Study in Terror was the first to bring Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper together. Over a decade later, director Bob Clark (Black Christmas) would take the concept and run with it in making the similarly themed Murder by Decree (1979). Given that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was writing his original Holmes stories during the time of the Whitechapel murders, it is a bit surprising that he didn’t bring real life into his fiction.
John Neville (The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) delivers a strong performance as Sherlock Holmes and brings a touch of class to the role. His take on the detective is both dry and serious and at times quite athletic as Holmes finds himself in at least one physical confrontation. Donald Houston (Clash of the Titans) also plays it straight as Doctor Watson, a frequent comedic sidekick in earlier adaptations, but completely serious here. There are strong turns from supporting cast members John Fraser (Repulsion) as Lord Carfax, Anthony Quale (Lawrence of Arabia) as Doctor Murray and Robert Morley (Theatre of Blood) as Mycroft Holmes. Keep an eye out for famed actress Dame Judi Dench (Henry V) in an early performance as Sally, the woman who heads the soup kitchen.
This really is a straightforward story that moves at a decent pace and features some nice atmosphere and beautiful locations. Though it would benefit from a bit of humor, the picture is more satisfying than not. A Study in Terror was not a huge success at the box office, but did find a second life on cable television, VHS and Laser Disc. The film was briefly available as an MOD DVD from Sony and was similarly bare bones as is this new Blu-ray release from Mill Creek. Not even a trailer to weigh things down here, but the video transfer is something to behold. This title is well worth picking up, especially at this low price point and is a worthy addition to your collection, especially if you are a Holmes fan.
Video and Audio:
Presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the picture looks terrific with a striking transfer that is full of bright colors and rich blacks. Small-object detail in hair and fabrics is sharp and despite some minor instances of print damage, everything appears gorgeous.
An LPCM 2.0 stereo mix preserves the original sound recording with dialogue levels well-balanced with music and effects. Things are occasionally a bit tinny, but this is likely the result of the source recordings.