House of Fear (1945)

     On March 16, 1945, Universal Pictures released The House of Fear (1945), the eighth of twelve Sherlock Holmes films produced by the studio.  Basil Rathbone returned as Holmes for the tenth time.  Rathbone played Sherlock Holmes twice for Twentieth Century – Fox before Universal started producing the series.

     Despite its late entry into the series, the film stands up as one of the stronger entries.  I would place it along with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) and The Woman in Green (1945) as the best Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone.


Basil Rathbone in his more famous role as Sherlock Holmes

     In this film, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, played by Nigel Bruce, answer a summons to Drear Cliff Castle in Scotland.

     Seven men calling themselves “The Good Comrades” live at Dear Cliff Castle.  One of the members receives an envelope with seven orange pips.  A day later, the other comrades find him murdered and mutilated.

     After a second member receives six orange pips, the owner of the castle sends an insurance agent to request Sherlock Holmes’ assistance in solving the mystery.  Drawn by the strange tale, Holmes cannot resist the invitation and consents to help.

     Besides Holmes and Watson, Inspector Lestrade also travels to Scotland to aid in the investigation.  The resolution of the case is unique enough to make this formula picture more interesting than it should be.

     The House of Fear (1945) runs about 69 minutes.  You can look for it on YouTube, Hulu Plus and other film services.  Several of the Holmes films recently played on GetTV.

     What do you think of this film series?  Do you like Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes?  Why or why not?

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