A Study in Terror

Not to be confused with A Study in Scarlet.
A Study in Terror
Directed by James Hill
Produced by Henry E. Lester
Herman Cohen
Michael Klinger
Tony Tenser
Written by Derek Ford
Donald Ford
Based on an original story by Derek & Donald Ford based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Starring John Neville
Donald Houston
John Fraser
Anthony Quayle
Robert Morley
Barbara Windsor
Adrienne Corri
Judi Dench
Music by John Scott
Cinematography Desmond Dickinson
Edited by Henry Richardson
Compton-Tekli Film Productions
Sir Nigel Films Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 4 November 1965 (1965-11-04) (World Premiere, London)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £160,000[1]

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]


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 exposes the identity of the Ripper.



A Study in Terror was released with reviews mixed to positive. Critics criticised the incorrect chronological order of murders carried out by the Ripper, but praised the strong performances from the cast for a low budget film. A Study in Terror received praise regarding John Neville and Donald Houston's portrayal of Holmes and Watson, comparing it to Rathbone and Bruce's portrayals of the duo.

Post-release history

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. Several plot points, including most notably the identity of the murderer, were altered for the novel.

The Holmes-Ripper idea was later taken up in Murder by Decree (1978), in which Frank Finlay reprised his role as Lestrade 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.


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


  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

External links

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