The House of Fear (1945 film)

The House of Fear is a 1945 crime film directed by Roy William Neill. It is loosely based on The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle, and features the characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. It is the 10th film of the Rathbone/Bruce series.

The House of Fear
1945 theatrical poster
Directed byRoy William Neill
Produced byRoy William Neill
Screenplay byRoy Chanslor
Based onthe 1891 story "The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips"
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
StarringBasil Rathbone
Nigel Bruce
Aubrey Mather
Florette Hillier
Music byPaul Sawtell
CinematographyVirgil Miller
Edited bySaul A. Goodkind
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 16, 1945 (1945-03-16)
Running time
69 minutes
CountryUnited States


Holmes is visited by Mr. Chalmers (Gavin Muir), an insurance agent with a strange tale. Seven single men, calling themselves "The Good Comrades", live together in the remote Scottish castle of Drearcliffe House, near the village of Inverneill. Recently one of the "Good Comrades" received a strange message, an envelope containing nothing but seven orange pips. That night, he was murdered and his body horribly mutilated. A few days later, a second envelope was delivered, this time containing six pips, and the recipient also died mysteriously soon afterwards, his battered corpse being recovered from the base of the cliffs. Chalmers holds £100,000 of life insurance policies on the seven men, and suspects that one is systematically murdering the others in order to collect the money, and begs Holmes to investigate.

Holmes and Watson arrive at the scene only to find another murder has occurred. His body is burned to a crisp. Lestrade also arrives to investigate. Despite Holmes' best efforts, three more deaths occur, each time leaving the victim's body unrecognizable. Meanwhile, the local tobacconist Alec MacGregor writes a message to Lestrade which unfortunately was already opened and resealed before it arrived in the inspector's possession. Holmes and Lestrade went to MacGregor's shop to find out what's going on, only to find that the tobacconist was shot in the back before they got there.

Lestrade jumps to the obvious conclusion, that the last surviving member, Bruce Alistair (Aubrey Mather), murdered all the others. However, after Watson goes missing, Holmes has deduced the truth and leads Lestrade (and Alistair) to a secret room where all the "Good Comrades" - alive and well - are hiding with Watson tied up. Holmes explains that Alistair was the victim of a plot to frame him for murder and collect the insurance money by the other six.[1] The six "Good Comrades" murdered MacGregor because he never believed in ghosts and spotted one of them alive on the beach; that message he sent to Lestrade was his death warrant.



  1. Davies, David Stuart, Holmes of the Movies (New English Library, 1976) ISBN 0-450-03358-9
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