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The Body Snatcher (1945)

Approved | | Horror, Thriller | 1945 (UK)
A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

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(short story), (written for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Mrs. Marsh
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Georgina Marsh
Donna Lee ...
Street Singer
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Storyline

In Edinburgh in 1831, Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane runs a medical school where Donald Fettes is a student. Fettes is interested in helping a young girl who has lost the use of her legs. He is certain that MacFarlane's surgical skills could be put to great use but he is reluctant to do so. The good Dr. MacFarlane has a secret that soon becomes all too obvious to young Fettes, who has only recently been promoted as his assistant: he has been paying a local cabbie, John Gray, to supply him with dead bodies for anatomical research. Gray constantly harasses MacFarlane and clearly has a hold over him dating to a famous trial many years before where Gray refused to identify the man for whom he was robbing graves. Fettes isn't aware of any of this but soon realizes exactly how Gray obtains the bodies they use in their anatomy classes. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Foul Traffic in Dead Bodies. See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1945 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Wise on Henry Daniell: "Henry was as far from a complainer as any I've ever known. He'd walk onto the set, do his work like the pro he was, do it damn good, and then quietly leave without being a burden to anybody. Period." See more »

Goofs

When Gray kills Joseph, the latter's right arm is stretched out from his shoulder at a 90 degree angle and Gray reaches over to shoo away his cat who begins to nuzzle Joseph's right hand. In the next shot, the right arm of the dead Joseph has suddenly moved to a position where it lies parallel to his body. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Wolfe 'Toddy' MacFarlane: What is Gray to me? He's a man from whom I buy what I need when I need it. The rest is forgotten.
Meg Camden: You may deny him, Toddy, but you'll not rid yourself of him by saying the devil's dead.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: In Edinburgh, in 1831- See more »

Connections

Featured in Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Poor Daft Jamie
(uncredited)
("Elegiac Lines on the Tragical Murder of Poor Daft Jamie")
Scottish folk song (1829)
Sung by Boris Karloff
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User Reviews

 
Great atmospheric chiller!
19 January 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

Val Lewton has produced some of the most important horror classics of all time. His collaborations with the great Jacques Tourneur are the most noteworthy in his filmography, but some of the others are of note also. Like this one for example. The Body Snatcher is a psychological horror film, a study of guilt, and an expose on how people sometimes have to do bad things in order to do good, even though those bad deeds may well consume them. This is shown through the story of Wolfe MacFarlane, a doctor and teacher of medicine that employs cabbie John Gray to steal corpses from the local cemetery so that he can use them to show his students how to operate on a patient. However, this arrangement has put the cabbie/gravedigger in a position of power over the upper class doctor, and that is something that John Gray intends to capitalise on...

Boris Karloff stars as the grave digging John Gray, and does an absolutely excellent job with it. Karloff has to prove nothing to nobody after his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster, but his embodiment of exactly what you would expect a grave robbing, amoral lower class man to be like is right on cue. Fellow legend Bela Lugosi makes a welcome, if brief appearance also and the other lead role is taken by Henry Daniell. I haven't seen this man before...well, I didn't think I had - he's actually been in many well-respected classics including The Philadelphia Story and The Great Dictator. He does a great job as the lead; his performance bodes well with the film, and just like Karloff he's very believable in his role. The real star of the show, however, is the lush black and white cinematography which capture's the movie's many beautiful settings. Val Lewton has become famous for capturing this sort of atmosphere, and The Body Snatcher is one of the films that does it best.

The use of 'less is more' is right on cue in this film, and there is one sequence in particular involving Boris Karloff, a dark alley and a street singer that will be of particular note to film fans. In short; The Body Snatcher is a great horror film, and one that anyone who considers themselves a fan of great horror will not want to miss!


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