IMDb > The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)

The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) More at IMDbPro »

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The Man They Could Not Hang -- In this early sci-fi thriller, Boris Karloff is a doctor working on experiments to restore life to the dead. When he is unjustly hanged for murder, he is brought back to life by his trusted assistant. Re-animated he turns decidedly nasty and sets about murdering the jury that convicted him.


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Karl Brown (screenplay)
George Wallace Sayre (story)
View company contact information for The Man They Could Not Hang on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
17 August 1939 (USA) See more »
TRANSFORMED BY THE HANGMAN'S NOOSE...from a doctor serving humanity into a demon filled with hate...and terrorizing blood-lust! See more »
When Dr. Savaard's experiment in cryonics is interrupted by the short-sighted authorities, his volunteer dies, and he is condemned to death. He vows vengeance if he can survive his own hanging. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Better then Expected See more (28 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Boris Karloff ... Dr. Henryk Savaard

Lorna Gray ... Janet Savaard

Robert Wilcox ... 'Scoop' Foley
Roger Pryor ... District Attorney Drake

Don Beddoe ... Police Lt. Shane

Ann Doran ... Betty Crawford
Joe De Stefani ... Dr. Stoddard
Charles Trowbridge ... Judge Bowman
Byron Foulger ... Lang
Dick Curtis ... Jury Foreman Clifford Kearney

James Craig ... Juror Watkins
John Tyrrell ... Juror Sutton
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George Anderson ... Prison Warden (uncredited)
Sam Ash ... Druggist (uncredited)
Stanley Blystone ... Prison Guard (uncredited)
Harlan Briggs ... Defense Attorney Parker (uncredited)
Stanley Brown ... Bob Roberts (uncredited)
Flo Campbell ... Housewife (uncredited)

John Dilson ... King - City Editor (uncredited)
Carl Faulkner ... Bailiff (uncredited)
Chuck Hamilton ... Juror (uncredited)
Frank Jaquet ... Cigar-Smoking Fat Juror (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp ... Reporter (uncredited)
William Lally ... Bailiff (uncredited)
Perc Launders ... Bailiff (uncredited)
Larry Lund ... Court Clerk (uncredited)
Ian Maclaren ... Priest (uncredited)
Charles McAvoy ... Prison Official (uncredited)
Charles Miller ... Dr. Avery - Juror (uncredited)
Bert Moorhouse ... Reporter (uncredited)
Franklin Parker ... Second Reporter (uncredited)
Tom Quinn ... Reporter (uncredited)
Bob Reeves ... Juror (uncredited)
Walter Sande ... Reporter at Typewriter (uncredited)

Robert Sterling ... First Reporter (uncredited)
Edward Thomas ... Butler (uncredited)
Cyril Thornton ... Senior Butler (uncredited)

Directed by
Nick Grinde  (as Nick Grindé)
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Karl Brown  screenplay
George Wallace Sayre  story
Leslie T. White  story

Produced by
Wallace MacDonald .... producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Benjamin H. Kline  (as Benjamin Kline)
Film Editing by
William A. Lyon  (as William Lyon)
Makeup Department
Clay Campbell .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Thomas Flood .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sound Department
George Cooper .... sound engineer (uncredited)
Music Department
Morris Stoloff .... musical director (as M.W. Stoloff)
R.H. Bassett .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Joseph Nussbaum .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Ben Oakland .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
George Parrish .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Karol Rathaus .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
William Grant Still .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Gregory Stone .... composer: stock music (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
64 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Did You Know?

Shooting lasted from June 27-July 12, 1939, released Aug. 17.See more »
Dr. Henryk Savaard:You who have condemned me, I know your kind. Your forbears poisoned Socrates, burned Joan of Arc, hanged, tortured all those whose offense was to bring light into darkness. For you to condemn me in my work is a crime so shameful that the judgement of history will be against you for all the years to come!See more »


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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
Better then Expected, 8 October 2004
Author: sbibb1 ( from New York, NY

This 1939, public domain cheapie B-Film turned out to be much better then expected. The plot in a nut shell is this: Boris Karloff kills a medical student in order to test a procedure that will bring him back to life, only his nurse, played by Ann Doran goes to the police. Karloff is arrested, tried and hanged, but not before threatening the judge, members of the jury, his nurse and others who helped to get him sentenced to death. Once dead, a scientist who worked with Karloff brings him back to life, and he sets out killing those who sentenced him to death.

If anyone has seen The House on Haunted Hill and its later remake, this film was probably used for certain inspiration for this film. You have a group of people, all associated with the case, who are all brought to a deserted house, locked inside, and are slowly killed off one by one. The film is short, just a little over an hour in length, but is top notch entertainment, and is very enjoyable, and well acted.

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