A Study in Terror

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A Study in Terror
Study in terror43.jpg
US release film poster
Directed byJames Hill
Produced byHenry E. Lester
Herman Cohen
Michael Klinger
Tony Tenser
Written byDerek Ford
Donald Ford
Based onan original story by Derek & Donald Ford based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
StarringJohn Neville
Donald Houston
John Fraser
Anthony Quayle
Robert Morley
Barbara Windsor
Adrienne Corri
Judi Dench
Music byJohn Scott
CinematographyDesmond Dickinson
Edited byHenry Richardson
Compton-Tekli Film Productions
Sir Nigel Films Productions
Distributed byColumbia Pictures (US only)
Release date
  • 4 November 1965 (1965-11-04) (World Premiere, London)

  • 10 August 1966 (1966-08-10) (US release)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

A Study in Terror is a 1965 British thriller film directed by James Hill and starring John Neville as Sherlock Holmes and Donald Houston as Dr. Watson. It was filmed at Shepperton Studios, London, with some location work at Osterley House in Middlesex.

The film had its world premiere at the Leicester Square Theatre in the West End of London on 4 November 1965.[2] A Study in Terror presents the first film appearance of Mycroft Holmes.[3]


Although it is based on Conan Doyle's characters, the story is an original one, which has the famous detective on the trail of Jack the Ripper. In the dark alleys of nineteenth century London, the notorious Jack the Ripper committed a series of gruesome murders. The story of A Study in Terror challenges Sherlock Holmes to solve these horrific crimes. This leads Holmes through a trail of aristocracy, blackmail and family insanity. Unlike Scotland Yard, and the real-life story, Holmes eventually discovers the identity of the Ripper.



Producer Herman Cohen originally wanted to title the film Fog but Columbia insisted on the title A Study in Terror to tie in with the Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet. Cohen also recalled on its US release Columbia advertised the film as a then popular tongue in cheek Batman type film rather than a horror or detective film[4].

The Monthly Film Bulletin gave a lackluster review saying "the film marks time lamely in the intervals between its conventionally shock-cut murders, while John Neville and Donald Houston uncomfortably mouth their lines as if suspecting that nobody will listen."[3] Variety felt that "though the mixture of fiction and fact doesn't entirely click...An excellent cast gives the production fill value."[3] The New York Times said "the entire cast, director and writers do play their roles well enough to make wholesale slaughter a pleasant diversion."[5]

Post-release history[edit]

In 1966, the film was made into a novel by Ellery Queen and Paul W. Fairman. The novelisation is unusual in that it adds a framing story wherein Ellery Queen reads a manuscript that re-tells the actions of the film. The framing story was written by Ellery Queen and the novelisation of the film itself by Fairman.[6]

The Holmes-Ripper idea was later taken up in Murder by Decree (1978), in which Frank Finlay reprised his role as Lestrade[3] and Anthony Quayle once again had an important part (though this time as Sir Charles Warren of Scotland Yard).

The film inspired the writing of Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds, blending the story of Sherlock Holmes and the world of H.G Wells' science fiction novel The War of the Worlds.[citation needed]


A Study in Terror (1965) was composed by John Scott in his first feature film score conducting the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra (HSO 333)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ John Hamilton, Beasts in the Cellar: The Exploitation Film Career of Tony Tenser, Fab Press, 2005 p 67
  2. ^ The Times 4/11/65, page 2
  3. ^ a b c d Barnes, Alan (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. pp. 211–212. ISBN 978-1-903111-04-8.
  4. ^ p. 76 Weaver, Tom Herman Cohen Interview in Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews McFarland, 19 Feb. 2003
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley (November 3, 1966). "The Screen::Burt Lancaster in 'The Professionals' Noisy Western Opens at 2 Local Theaters". The New York Times. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Picker, Lenny. "Screen of the Crime". Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine. 1 (4): 22.

External links[edit]