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Terror by Night (1946)

When the fabled Star of Rhodesia diamond is stolen on a London to Edinburgh train and the son of its owner is murdered, Sherlock Holmes must discover which of his suspicious fellow passengers is responsible.


Roy William Neill


Frank Gruber (screenplay), Arthur Conan Doyle (adapted from a story by) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)




Complete credited cast:
Basil Rathbone ... Sherlock Holmes
Nigel Bruce ... Dr. John H. Watson
Alan Mowbray ... Maj. Duncan-Bleek
Dennis Hoey ... Inspector Lestrade
Renee Godfrey ... Vivian Vedder
Frederick Worlock ... Prof. William Kilbane (as Frederic Worlock)
Mary Forbes ... Lady Margaret Carstairs
Skelton Knaggs ... Sands
Billy Bevan ... Train Attendant
Geoffrey Steele Geoffrey Steele ... Roland Carstairs


Holmes is hired by Roland Carstairs to prevent the theft of the Star of Rhodesia, a 423 carat diamond owned by Carstairs' mother, Lady Margaret. Suspecting the diamond will be stolen on a train trip from London to Edinburgh in Scotland, Holmes deftly switches diamonds with Lady Margaret while in her compartment admiring the jewel. Soon after, Roland is murdered and the fake diamond is stolen. Red herrings abound as Holmes, aided by Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade, discover the murderer's hiding place and deduce that long-time nemesis Professor Moriarty's henchman, Colonel Sebastian Moran, is somehow involved in the crime. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


MURDER... at 90 Miles an Hour! See more »


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Did You Know?


The final Sherlock Holmes film with Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade. See more »


Lestrade's passenger list gives the forename of Lady Carstairs' son as Roland; however some time later in the guard's van, Holmes refers to him as Ronald. See more »


[Sherlock watches from the train corridor as Prof. Kilbane throws Dr. Watson from his compartment]
Sherlock Holmes: Did you discover anything, Watson?
Dr. John H. Watson: Yes. He's a very suspicious character. He tried to put me off the scent.
Sherlock Holmes: From the little I heard, he seemed reasonably successful.
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Alternate Versions

In some prints, scenes are repeated at the conclusion to illustrate Holmes' explanation scene. See more »

User Reviews

Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, one speeding train, one coffin and one precious diamond.
7 June 2011 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

Terror by Night is directed by Roy William Neill and written by Frank Gruber. It's based on characters created by Arthur Conan Doyle, loosely using ideas from the stories The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle, The Adventure of the Empty House and the Sign of Four. It stars Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Alan Mowbray, Dennis Hoey, Renee Godfrey and Vivian Vedder. Music is by Hans Salter and cinematography by Maury Gertsman.

Plot finds Sherlock Holmes (Rathbone) hired to protect Lady Margaret Carstairs (Mary Forbes) and her precious diamond, the Star of Rhodesia. Who along with her son Roland (Geoffrey Steele), is aboard the express train from London to Edinburgh. It seems that the presence of the diamond on board this train is known by many characters, both good and bad. Holmes and his trusty companion Dr. Watson (Bruce), will need to keep their wits about them.

The thirteenth and penultimate film in the Rathbone/Bruce Sherlock Holmes series, Terror by night is a considerable improvement on the one before it, Pursuit to Algiers. Like that film, this one is also set mostly on a passenger vehicle, but where the boat premise wasn't utilised for great drama and mystery previously, here on board a speeding train it is. Clocking in at under an hour in running time, film does have the feel of a TV episode, but the characters are interesting and the twists and turns in the plot are most welcome. Picture also sees more of Lestrade; true enough he's more inept than ever, as is Watson, but they keep the comedy on the high heat till the story veers into mystery solving time. Here there's also enjoyment to be had in trying to guess who the villain is; OK, so you don't have to be Einstein to figure it out, but the mystery unfolds with some wily Holmes trickery and some Dr. Watson gusto. 7/10

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

1 February 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sherlock Holmes: Terror by Night See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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