THE HOUSE OF FEAR

(1945)
With Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Dennis Hoey, Aubrey Mather, Paul Cavinaugh
Directed by Roy William Neill
Black and White
Reviewed by JB

     Loosely based on the story "The Five Orange Pips", THE HOUSE OF FEAR is lots of fun but still a step down from heights of THE SCARLET CLAW and THE PEARL OF DEATH.  HOUSE OF FEAR is an "old dark house" mystery, one that seems rather silly for most of its running time.  Holmes takes on the case of the Good Comrades, seven gentlemen who are systematically being murdered, presumably by one of their own.  The World's Greatest Consulting Detective then seems to take the strategy of waiting it out until only one man is standing, the easiest way to finger the murderer.  But, luckily, its not that simple at all and although many mystery fans will have figured it out long before Holmes and Watson return to Baker Street, I must admit the ending caught me by surprise.

     Basil Rathbone is still enjoying playing the part of Sherlock Holmes, but, alas, in this one he is saddled with a Watson and Lestrade who are so stupid, they come off as Rathbone's own personal Larry and Curly.  Of course, it is hard not to appreciate the comic talents of Nigel Bruce and Dennis Hoey, even if their buffoonish antics may cause Arthur Conan Doyle to turn in his grave.  

     Finally, congratulations are in order to Dr. John H. Watson, who not only discovers the final clue to the mystery but also handles the post-mortem restatement of the facts quite nicely. Watson, you scintillate tonight! 3 - JB

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