27 March 2017

JACK THE RIPPER. (1988) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




JACK THE RIPPER. (1988) DIRECTED BY DAVID WICKES. WRITTEN BY DAVID WICKES AND DEREK MARLOWE. STARRING MICHAEL CAINE, LEWIS COLLINS, MICHAEL GOTHARD, T.P. MCKENNA, KEN BONES, HUGH FRASER, ARMAND ASSANTE, RAY MCANALLY, JANE SEYMOUR, LYSETTE ANTHONY AND SUSAN GEORGE. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

'The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing...'

Imagine, if you will, that you've gone back in time. Don't complain. It'll get you out of work for a few blissful minutes. That's right, now concentrate. You're in Victorian London, Whitechapel to be precise, and the year is 1888. Recognise it? Yep, the last few months of that particular year were nicknamed THE AUTUMN OF TERROR, and not without a damned good reason, either.

The fog is a real pea-souper, as they used to call it. It wreathes the dingy little side-streets and back-alleys of Whitechapel, one of the poorest areas of London's notorious East End. Notorious, that is, for its desperate poverty, high crime rates and the pimps and prostitutes who know the miserable streets and squares better than Google Maps ever could.

A hansom cab rumbles by, or occasionally even the coach of a toff, as an adventurous lord or gentleman decides to slum it for an evening amongst the bawdy-houses of Whitechapel. Raucous couples fall out of the Ten Bells and other public-houses shrieking and laughing and single (or maybe married) men look around for a lady of the night with whom to pass a companionable hour or two.

'You working, love?' is heard up and down Whitechapel as the prostitutes ply their trade. A pretty girl in her faded finery takes a customer down a pitch-black back-alley. She knows that there's a quiet little corner there where they can do the deed. She doesn't know this man.

She turns around to face him, plastering a fake smile of encouragement onto her face. If she pleases him, who knows, he might become a regular. He looks well-to-do and will surely be good for a bob or two. 

Then she sees the flash of a knife, but is too slow to prevent its being drawn swiftly across her throat so that her life's blood spills onto the cobbles of the little back-alley. She hasn't even had time to scream. It is The Autumn Of Terror, and Jack The Ripper has just claimed another victim...

Get the picture? I enjoyed writing all that gory stuff, haha. Must be the voyeur in me. Anyway, we're here to look at the excellent made-for-television adaptation of this rather spectacular but undoubtedly grim true story, filmed in 1988 and starring Michael Caine. It was made especially for the one hundredth anniversary of the murders that shook the whole of Victorian London to its core.

The really amazing thing about the superb two-part miniseries is as follows. Believe it or not, the production team were granted unprecedented access to the Home Office files on the case of Jack The Ripper, and the resulting two-parter is what they genuinely believe to be the true story of what happened in Whitechapel all those decades ago. I love that about it.

Kind of mind-blowing to think about, isn't it? I mean, the real files and what real evidence they had, all there on the table to be looked at and examined minutely by the telly people. And from so very long ago, as well. Utterly mind-boggling, if you ask me.

Anyway, British actor Michael Caine is brilliant as Frederick Abberline, the copper given the unpleasant task of catching the man (or men) who wreaked such havoc on the streets of Whitechapel that Autumn. Abberline has a drinking problem (Johnny Depp played Abberline in FROM HELL and opium was his drug of choice), but which of us doesn't? Sure, I'm swilling on a lovely jeroboam of champers as I write this review, haha.

The two-part miniseries is astonishingly accurate in its treatment of the subject matter. All the 

familiar names and phrases and street names are absolutely present and correct: 


Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman,'Long Liz' Stride. Catherine Eddowes and Mary-Jane Kelly.


Bucks Row. Spitalfields. Mitre Square. 'The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.' 


'Leather Apron.' The so-called 'double event.' The letters to the police. The bit of bloodied apron.




The cart, serving as an ambulance, that transported the cadavers to a place of autopsy. The


Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, led by George Lusk, who lobbied for and brought about the


resignation of Police Commissioner Warren for his failure to catch the murderer. It's all there,


meticulously researched and lavishly presented, and it makes for great watching.




I love Susan George as Catherine Eddowes. You might remember Susan George as the saucy little


temptress married to Dustin Hoffman in Sam Peckinpah's 1971 violent masterpiece, STRAW DOGS.


She was gang-raped in the film, although she gave a good impression of a woman who was enjoying 


herself during at least the first part of it. Controversial one, that.






The gorgeous Lysette Anthony (I think she was in a Depeche Mode video once) plays Mary-Jane


Kelly. Her 'Oirish' accent grates like nails on a blackboard but her role is perhaps the saddest and


most tragic of all the victims and she plays it nicely. Poor Mary-Jane. I know that the other 


victims were all treated appallingly too, but what went on behind the closed door of Mary-Jane's 


meagre little home that dark foggy night is enough to give anyone nightmares.






Armand Assante is suitably full of himself as the great actor Richard Mansfield, whose on-stage 


transformation from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde has to be seen to be believed. The uncrowned Queen of


the mini-series genre and period drama, Jane Seymour, serves as the eye-candy here, with Abberline


himself taking an interest as well as Mansfield. Her dresses and hair are just fabulous but then, it's


probably not her first period drama, haha. The size of her caboose in those bustles...! My Jaysis.



The sets are exquisite and most realistic. I really felt I was back there in Victorian times, watching


keenly as the handful of suspects all go about their business-as-usual, but one of them has to be the


killer. The build-up of tension and suspense is superbly well-handled. You'll be on the edge of your 


seat biting your fingernails to the bone in the lead-up to the dénouement, I promise you.





This wonderful adaptation of the world's most sinister murder story is out today (27th March,


2017) on Blu-Ray and DVD, courtesy of NETWORK DISTRIBUTING and BLUE DOLPHIN


PR & MARKETING. In fact, NETWORK DISTRIBUTING and BLUE DOLPHIN PR &


MARKETING are currently on a mission to bring quality vintage British films to the viewing 


public.




NETWORK is actually the home of 'The British Film' collection, the ultimate destination 


for vintage British films. They've already recently released BLONDE FIST (1991) and the


excellent HELL DRIVERS (1957), and I literally cannot wait to see what they come out 


with next.



In the meantime, please be careful when you walk the foggy streets of Whitechapel at night.


(That's right, you're still stuck in Victorian London and I haven't said you can come back yet...!)


There's no moon tonight and I think I hear the sound of horses' hooves approaching...






AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com








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