In truth, there is barely enough story here to make a film.
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This is a small, humorous movie in some ways, but it has a huge heart. What a nice experience.
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It’s sentimental, ridiculously long and only occasionally funny
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The real identity of Jack the Ripper will probably never be known. The evidence is only circumstantial for the best of the many theories about who the mad killer of 1888 London was. Most of the theories could be discarded after thorough investigations. But, there is little likelihood that the world will ever know for sure the identity of the most notorious homicidal killer of all time. No eyewitness ever came forward. More than a century later there's little chance that any new evidence exists. And less chance even of finding it, if any does exist. So, the murder cases of Jack the Ripper will likely go unsolved forever. But that won't stop sleuths from investigating or the curious from speculating. And more movies may yet be made about the subject. This 1988 British movie is from a TV mini-series. It has a conclusion and unmasks Jack the Ripper for the slaying of five women from Aug. 31 to Nov. 9, 1888. The writers supposedly assembled the best and the latest evidence to arrive at their conclusion. The movie just touches on, but doesn't go deeply into the confusion that surely existed at the time over different players in the investigations. One wonders if a clue or two might not have been lost, misplaced or dismissed. In the confusion that surely existed with handling of the various cases between different units of the law, were all the clues, tips and pieces of evidence kept intact, shared among the law groups and passed on? Different people led various investigations from the London Metro police and from Scotland yard. This film's conclusion is as logical and probable as any. The details of the murders are portrayed accurately. Likewise some of the other situations of the time - notably, the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. The movie combines some of the investigators into the one primary and longest investigator, Detective Inspector Frederick Abberline. Michael Caine plays that role superbly. All of the cast give top performances. The movie shows the extent to which London was all but mesmerized by the killings. It shows how frantic the efforts must have been by the law to find and bring the killer to justice. And, the film has excellent sets, costumes and other aspects that reflect the culture of the time. This is a nice historical film as well. Anyone curious about the legend should thoroughly enjoy this film. While history may never reveal the real identify of Jack the Ripper, it's highly probable that this film's conclusion is right. It's logical and fits with the conditions of the killings, the start and end of them, and the real people alive at that time.
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This made for television movie tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the famous, real-life case of Jack the Ripper, the murderer who slaughtered prostitutes in Victorian London and neatly removed their internal organs. The film concentrates on a detective's investigation into the murders and therefore cannot be missed by any self-respecting mystery fan, as it's an above average and taut thriller with lots of star performances and a nicely portrayed Victorian London, complete with pea-soup fog, cobbled streets, and lurking figures in black cloaks.The cast is populated by British actors and actresses, even though the film is an American production. Just about everybody you've ever seen in British television and film turns, there are just too many names to list: Ray McAnally, Michael Gothard, Susan George, Harry Andrews...the list goes on. It's Michael Caine, though, who steals the spotlight with his portrayal of a dogged detective (also an alcoholic, way before Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up the bottle in their films). Some people have called his performance hammy, well maybe it is, but it's entertaining anyway. I mean, who wants to watch subdued actors who don't give it all they've got? Unfortunately Jane Seymour turns up as the obligatory love interest, and the less said about her performance, the better. On the other hand, Ken Bones is a wonderfully neurotic clairvoyant, and Armand Assante does a wonderful transformation from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde before our very eyes with the aid of some prosthetics (and he isn't afraid to be ridiculed when it turns out he's bald). Assante's performance is nicely slimy.I would go so far to say that this could be a definitive portrayal of the Ripper murders. It's not perfect by any means, for a start there are too many red herrings and people get blamed for the murders just for the sheer sake of it. Also, the whole city of London is far too clean and respectable, nobody is smoking or taking drugs, difficult to believe but merely a product of the political correctness of our time (but altering an audience's perspective of the Victorian era just to comply with modern day issues? It's a fact that people smoked, there's no point trying to deny it and this omission just makes the producers look ridiculous).On the plus side there is oodles of suspense, plenty of atmosphere, and good and assured performances from a distinguished cast. The film may run for slightly too long (it goes on for about three and a half hours) but I can say that I didn't get bored while watching any of it, as Caine had me riveted throughout. The actual gore content is kept low, but a brief flash of a room where a prostitute has been dismembered and parts of her body are draped everywhere is very unsettling.
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Superior to both the Kinski mass-gore version and the more recent Johnny Depp attempt, Michael Caine is wonderfully cast as the non conformist, alcoholic Inspector Abberline, a local hero whose unreliable nature is kept in check by his faithful Sergeant, George Godley (Collins, in his best role to date outside of "The Professionals"). The length of this mini-series shouldn't deter you; there's substantial content, and enough sub-plots to maintain the momentum.Of course the identity of the infamous Jack the Ripper is core to this rendition, and much of the narrative focuses on a discreet few suspects, who are variably implicated or exonerated as the investigation progresses. The supporting cast is an ideal mix of experience (McAnally, Seymour, Assante, Gothard and George) and new faces (Lysette Anthony and George Sweeney in particular). Sweeney's characterisation of the carriage-driver John Netley is chilling, while Ken Bones as the royal clairvoyant who "sees" the villain's two faces, adds a clever dimension that is perhaps both indicative of the historical context and yet, just as applicable in more contemporary manhunts of this ilk. Either or, it's a boon for this picture.The sequence of events is already known, and so details become the essence of the picture, with Abberline and Godley painstakingly deconstructing each new murder with clinical precision, but with 19th century know-how. Consequently, the victims continue to fall and pressure soon mounts on the administration to capture the predator, as social uprising begins to shake the aristocracy from its precarious perch. Without alluding to the identity of the culprit (according to this version), it's a very satisfying climax built on compounding suspense and perfect timing. The haunting score is excellent, so too the sets and costumes, and the dialogue is unpretentious and at times, highly amusing as intended.Overall, I found this epic (three hours) to be well paced, scary, intelligent and exciting to the last drop. In my opinion, the best Ripper translation to date. Highly recommended.
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This is the only film about Jack the Ripper which is actually worth looking at. It doesn't use guts or gore, it's just a great scary movie. It just goes to show that you can make an excellent creepy film without showing too much violence. But, having said this, it is also true that this movie would be nothing without the fantastic Michael Caine. However, this film does have one downside. It doesn't portray the murders anything like how they were committed by the real Ripper. But, to be honest, unless you're a devoted historian then it really doesn't matter. It starts well, ends well (even though the ending to this film differs GREATLY from what happened in real life), and there's more than enough throughout the film to keep you interested. If you've never seen this before, get down to Amazon immediately and buy a copy of the DVD without hesitation. You won't regret it!