Doctor Syn (1937)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Adventure  |  14 November 1937 (USA)
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When customs and excise men arrive at the village of Dymchurch in Kent, they uncover an intricate smuggling network being coordinated by the local parson, Dr Syn. Unknown to all but a few ... See full summary »



(scenario), (dialogue), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview:
Margaret Lockwood ...
Denis Cobtree
Roy Emerton ...
Capt. Howard Collyer, R.N.
Graham Moffatt ...
Jerry Jerk
Frederick Burtwell ...
Rash the Schoolmaster
George Merritt ...
Mipps the Coffin Maker
Athole Stewart ...
Squire Anthony Cobtree
Wilson Coleman ...
Dr. Pepper, MD
Wally Patch ...
Collyer's Bo'sun
Meinhart Maur ...
Mrs. Waggetts, Pub Owner


When customs and excise men arrive at the village of Dymchurch in Kent, they uncover an intricate smuggling network being coordinated by the local parson, Dr Syn. Unknown to all but a few locals Dr Syn also hides a secret past, that he was once the notorious pirate Captain Clegg. Written by Fuzzball

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Feared Pirate Gangster of His Time!


Drama | Adventure






Release Date:

14 November 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dr. Syn  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Remade as Night Creatures (1962) See more »


We've No Abiding City
Music by Louis Levy
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User Reviews

"There's Queer Goings-On In Dymchurch!"
27 December 1999 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

In the year 1780, the notorious pirate Captain Clegg marooned a mulatto sailor on a desert island. The sailor's ears and tongue were mutilated, and he was trussed up and left for dead. Now it is 1800, and the scene is set in Dymchurch, an English coastal village. A detachment of sailors from the Royal Navy has arrived in the village to hunt down smugglers and contraband. The mulatto is part of the naval complement, having been rescued many years previously by the warship's crew. In the village churchyard a tombstone marks the last resting-place of Captain Clegg, who was hanged for piracy ... or was he?

In this costume yarn the village of Dymchurch is a law unto itself, the whole community being actively involved in the smuggling industry. At night men dress in the eerie garb of the 'marsh phantoms', and take their orders from the sinister Scarecrow. Why does the village parson, Doctor Syn, react so violently to the presence of the mulatto?

George Arliss plays Doctor Syn in this, his last film. As one career was ending another was beginning, an incredibly young-looking Margaret Lockwood appearing as Imogene the barmaid.

The scenery is nice and atmospheric, successfully evoking the rickety feel of vernacular architecture of the period. The Ship Inn is particularly good.

Undercranking the camera in order to liven up the fist fight seems a somewhat clumsy technique to the modern viewer. The humour, mainly in the form of Jerry Jerk the overgrown schoolboy (Graham Moffatt) doesn't come off. And would a coroner really allow a naval captain to turn an inquest into a discussion forum on smuggling? How does the captain know about the parson's injured wrist?

Verdict - An odd little British film with nice atmospheric sets.

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