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Sally Lockhart Mysteries - Ruby In the Smoke (2007)

Billie Piper , Matt Smith , Brian Percival  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Billie Piper, Matt Smith, Sian Thomas, Kay Lyon, Robert Putt
  • Directors: Brian Percival
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NIBUP8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,210 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sally Lockhart Mysteries - Ruby In the Smoke" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Fearless young Sally Lockhart (Billie Piper, Doctor Who) has a mind for numbers and for sleuthing, and in Phillip Pullman’s quartet of novels, set in Victorian London, she is put through the paces of melodrama and mystery. In this vivid adaptation of the first book in the series, recently orphaned Sally Lockhart, armed with a pearl-handled pistol and her keen mind, uncovers the secrets of her father’s death aboard the sunken schooner Lavinia, discovers hidden cursed jewels, and faces England’s deadliest villains with bold courage. Sally’s friends, the street-smart Jim and besotted photographer Frederick, help her expose the truth - no matter how dangerous. Sally navigates through the constantly twisting plots with the savvy dexterity of a sharp-eyed detective.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good movie, I hope more are made in series August 21, 2007
Verified Purchase
I happened to catch the TV promotion for this before it aired and decided to watch partly because it had Billie Piper in it. I like British period detective dramas anyway and I wanted to see if she was good at something other than "Rose Tyler" from Dr. Who. I thought the story was pretty good, and the look of just about everything was wonderful- almost like being there.
Unlike the first review and at least the first comment I believe Ms. Piper did a good job. I found very little to complain about in this movie, it was a bit rushed towards the finish- 96 minutes would've been better than 86- and I think Sally's photographer friend's work tent was much too light (not dark enough inside it), that's about it.

If more are made in the series I'll watch and buy them.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Ruby' is a Real Gem January 22, 2008
Based on Philip Pullman's novel (which I have not read), this television adaptation is highly entertaining and engaging. `The Ruby in the Smoke' is set in England in 1874. Sally Lockhart (Billie Piper), a feisty young woman whose father has been killed in mysterious circumstances, now resides with her fusty Aunt Caroline. "What accomplishments do you have?" asks the spiteful elderly lady. Sally tells her that she has none save the ability to fire a pistol, speak Hindustani and to read an accounts ledger as easily as a newspaper. By the time she has removed herself from this stifling atmosphere, Sally is immersed in her first mystery. The catalyst for this upheaval is a cryptic note that she has received from Singapore concerning her father's untimely death. Much murderous mayhem and derring-do ensues when the eponymous ruby's existence becomes known.

Sally's business acumen comes to her rescue when she takes on the books at the lovelorn Frederick's (JJ Field) photography business in return for bed and board. He and capable cockney lad, Jim (Matt Smith), take on sidekick status as they are confronted by the vile and devious Mrs. Holland (Julie Walters) who will stop at nothing in order to secure the ruby for herself.

The acting is excellent, notably from Julie Walters. I don't think I've seen her playing a baddie before, but she appears to be thoroughly enjoying playing this sadistic character. Billie Piper gives an understated performance here, in keeping with her character's age and status. Visually, this is a real treat with some stunning photography that captures the colourful opulence of the haves as well as the dingy squalor of the have-nots. The story does demand some attention from the viewer: it's not something you can watch and switch your brain off. However, for those who enjoy quality costume drama coupled with mystery, this is a fine example.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introducing the Victorian Nancy Drew. September 27, 2008
"The Ruby in the Smoke" is adapted from the first book in "The Sally Lockhart Mysteries" series, written by Philip Pullman in the 1980s and 1990s to recall the style of Victorian penny dreadfuls. Indeed, as a I watched this film, I wondered if it had been written at the time it takes place, the 1870s. With its intrepid but pure young heroine, handsome men always quick to help her, opium dens, Dickensonian children, haggish villainess, and an improbable and labyrinthine plot in which key action is not always depicted, this story has the hallmarks of hacks and cheap Victorian melodrama. Maybe there is a little modernization: I doubt that Victorians would have jumped to hire a teenaged female accountant -because she is a woman, whereas now she would be dismissed for being young.

"The Sally Lockhart Mysteries" take themselves seriously enough that they don't fall headlong into camp. Even if nothing is quite believable, it is at least plausible in principle. I'm not sure who the audience is for a Victorian shilling-shocker these days -older children or adults- but these are good fun if the audience doesn't try to make anything more of them. Sally Lockhart is a woman in her late teens with little in the world to her name since her father died. Having been a shipping agent and minor adventurer, Captain Lockhart imparted to his daughter three skills: he taught her how to shoot a pistol, how to speak Hindustani, and how to keep accounts. Now the young lady is adrift in London with this odd combination of talents, with which she must make a life for herself.

"The Ruby in the Smoke" finds Sally (Billie Piper) mourning the loss of her father at sea. She receives a cryptic note about which she consults her father's business associate, who proves less than helpful, as he promptly dies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First of a series - only two of the series made March 27, 2009
Sally, as her father called her when he was alive, receives a mysterious note that throws suspicion on her father's accidental death. Pursuing this information, she soon will find herself discovering her past and unraveling a dream she had since childhood. In this pursuit, she makes many new friends and some deadly enemies.

Based on a novel by Bill Pullman (author of "The Golden Compass") you can see the Pullman pattern in the story. Pullman always has strong willed women. Adrian Hodges wrote the screenplay and kept the essentials while making it more palatable as a film. Many people watched the BBC production because Sally is well played by Billie Piper of "Dr. Who" fame. Yet all of the other actors most pretty well known in their own rights helped make this an excellent presentation; another well known actor Julie Walters who played Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter film series makes a spooky antagonist as the amoral Mrs. Holland.

The Sally Lockhart Mysteries - Shadow in the North
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Mary Sue Lockhart
Nice costumes, OK plot, but everybody loves Sally at first sight -- "Your father is dead, you have no money, your Aunt has kicked you out of her house, and people are trying to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. Rosser
3.0 out of 5 stars Plot development
Wife felt it was sad. We are older people and though the actress is excellent, her role in Jane Austen's work was better.
Published 3 months ago by John McKillop
5.0 out of 5 stars Sally Lockhart Mysteries-Ruby in the Smoke
Love mysteries and saw this on PBS. Really enjoyed it and was able to find it and purchased it on Amazon. Great movie and glad I purchased it. Thanks Amazon and seller.
Published 6 months ago by Fernando Gonzalez
4.0 out of 5 stars Determined
I like the determination in the show for such a young detective. I also liked the way she was not going to let her aunt rule her life.
Published 12 months ago by Brenda L. Fillbrandt
3.0 out of 5 stars Ruby and the smoke
The basic story was ok but I felt it lacked in substance in some places. Especially the end bit I think Julie Walters playing the baddie Mrs Holland could have had a more dramatic... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Julie Vincent
3.0 out of 5 stars Great British Mystery!
Got this film and watched it, took me a little time to get into it...but it's good! I do love Masterpiece theatre
Published 14 months ago by Rachel Jacobs
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent period fare for sleuths
I had seen this on Public television and jumped at the chance to own a copy, I enjoy period dramas and this was no disappointment. I would recommend this to all. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Thomas A. Baumgarten
4.0 out of 5 stars Billie Piper enchants as Pullman's Victorian-era sleuth
The first instalment in the BBC's promising but unfortunately short-lived attempt to bring author Philip Pullman's Victorian-era sleuth, Sally Lockhart, to the small screen, THE... Read more
Published on March 23, 2012 by Byron Kolln
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly made; skip this one.
This is the first (of very many) Masterpiece Theater productions that I did not like at all. Too many confusing characters who are poorly developed and make brief, strange... Read more
Published on January 7, 2010 by V Ember
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Spunky Pullman Heroine
Interested in this because it was by Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass, etc. This is a video based on the 1st of a trilogy of books. Read more
Published on November 11, 2008 by B. Dew
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