“Murder is an insidious thing Watson.”
Mr. Chalmers (Gavin Muir) is an insurance agent. He has come to see Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) with an unusual problem. He relays a story about a group of seven men that call themselves "The Good Comrades". They all live together in a castle in Scotland called Drearcliffe House. The castle is near the village of Inverneill.
At dinner one evening an envelope came for one of the comrades. In it were seven orange pips, or seeds. It was unusual but no one was concerned. That night the man died in a fiery car crash. A few days later another envelope came for another of the “Good Comrades”. Inside were six orange pips. He too died mysteriously. Chalmers is there to see Holms because his insurance company holds £100,000 in life insurance policies on the seven men. He suspects that one of them is killing off the others in order to collect on the policies. He asks Holmes to investigate.
Holmes and Watson take the Flying Scotsman to Edinburgh and then on to Inverneill. They arrive only to find another murder has occurred. His body is burned to a crisp. Inspector Lestrade from Scotland Yard is sent to investigate. But the murders keep happening and then Dr. Watson is attacked. Each time someone is murdered the body is horribly mutilated. In the meantime the local tobacconist Alec MacGregor (David Clyde) has information on the case. Before he can tell Lestrade, he too is killed.
“The House of Fear” was released in 1945 and was directed by Roy William Neill. It is the tenth movie in the Rathbone/Bruce series of movies. It is also the 5th movie with the character Inspector Lestrade. Although, what the London Metropolitan Police are doing in Scotland is beyond me. It is loosely based on Doyle’s 1891 story “The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips” This is the only film of the series in which Holmes calls Watson by his full name "Doctor John H. Watson". It happens in the very end shot of the movie. This is also the second movie of the series that Mrs. Hudson does not appear in.
The Flying Scotsman is an express passenger train service that operates between Edinburgh and London, the capitals of Scotland and England, via the East Coast Main Line. The service began in 1862; the name was officially adopted in 1924. It is currently operated by London North Eastern Railway. It is an LNER Class A3 4472.
“The Five Orange Pips” was the fifth short story authored by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was first published in November 1891 in the Strand Magazine. In the story the orange pips are accompanied by the written letters KKK and yes it does refer to the Ku Klux Klan. The story was written approximately 30 years after the outbreak of the civil war in America. At that time the KKK was just getting started. The original story revolves around the Klan and some papers that would be embarrassing to some big shots. When it came to redoing the story for the updated “The House of Fear”, the aspect of the KKK was difficult to work into the story so it was eliminated.