IMDb > The Body Snatcher (1945)
The Body Snatcher
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The Body Snatcher (1945) More at IMDbPro »

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The Body Snatcher -- A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

Overview

User Rating:
7.4/10   6,444 votes »
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Popularity: ?
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Director:
Writers:
Robert Louis Stevenson (short story)
Philip MacDonald (written for the screen by) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Body Snatcher on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1945 (UK) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
INVADED!...the sanctuary of the Dead!...by the Hero of Horror!...and the Master of Menace! See more »
Plot:
A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
3 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(37 articles)
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User Reviews:
Mr. Stevenson's "Corpus" See more (99 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Boris Karloff ... Cabman John Gray

Bela Lugosi ... Joseph

Henry Daniell ... Dr. Wolfe 'Toddy' MacFarlane

Edith Atwater ... Meg Cameron

Russell Wade ... Donald Fettes

Rita Corday ... Mrs. Marsh

Sharyn Moffett ... Georgina Marsh
Donna Lee ... Street Singer
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ted Billings ... Townsman (uncredited)

Bobby Burns ... Mourner (uncredited)

Robert Clarke ... Richardson - Medical Student (uncredited)
Aina Constant ... Maidservant (uncredited)

Mary Gordon ... Mrs. Mary McBride (uncredited)
Carl Kent ... Gilchrist - Medical Student (uncredited)
Milton Kibbee ... Dan (uncredited)

Ethan Laidlaw ... Pub Patron (uncredited)
Jim Moran ... Angus - Horse Trader (uncredited)
Jack Welch ... Boy (uncredited)
Larry Wheat ... Salesman (uncredited)

Bill Williams ... Survis - Medical Student (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Wise 
 
Writing credits
Robert Louis Stevenson (short story)

Philip MacDonald (written for the screen by) and
Val Lewton (written for the screen by) (as Carlos Keith)

Produced by
Jack J. Gross .... executive producer
Val Lewton .... producer
 
Original Music by
Roy Webb 
 
Cinematography by
Robert De Grasse (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
J.R. Whittredge  (as J. R. Whittredge)
 
Art Direction by
Albert S. D'Agostino 
Walter E. Keller 
 
Set Decoration by
Darrell Silvera (set decorations)
John Sturtevant (set decorations)
 
Costume Design by
Renié (costumes)
 
Makeup Department
Mel Berns .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Harry Scott .... assistant director
Nate Levinson .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Bailey Fesler .... recorded by
Terry Kellum .... rerecording by
 
Stunts
Carey Loftin .... stunt double: (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Charles Burke .... camera operator (uncredited)
 
Music Department
C. Bakaleinikoff .... musical director
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher" - UK (complete title), USA (complete title)
See more »
Runtime:
77 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Certification:
Australia:PG | Germany:12 (video rating) | Spain:13 | Sweden:(Banned) | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (tv rating) | UK:PG (video rating) (1986) (1998) (1999) | USA:Approved (MPPDA rating: certificate #10563)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The stock footage that opens the film does not actually depict Edinburgh, Scotland. It was in fact footage of California, where this movie was filmed.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: The scene in the pub right after it's announced that MacFarlane sold Gray's horse and buggy for a mere four pounds and the new owner is embarrassed into buying him a drink. Right after the barmaid goes to fetch him one, Fettes enters the pub to talk to the Doctor. When the barmaid returns, she has two drinks. Yet she had no indication that MacFarlane was meeting anyone, and the doctor didn't know Fettes was looking for him.See more »
Quotes:
Cabman John Gray:I am a small man, a humble man. Being poor I have had to do much that I did not want to do. But so long as the great Dr McFarlane comes to my whistle, that long am I a man. If I have not that then I have nothing. Then I am only a cabman and a grave robber. You'll never get rid of me, Toddy.See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Poor Daft JamieSee more »

FAQ

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48 out of 58 people found the following review useful.
Mr. Stevenson's "Corpus", 12 May 2004
Author: theowinthrop from United States

Robert Louis Stevenson has had a rough going in modern literary tastes. When he died in 1894, he was rightly regarded as one of the finest writers and stylists of his day - for grown-up readers! However, the enmity of a one time friend , W.E.Henley, diminished his reputation. Henley said that Stevenson was too superficial, and was basically a writer of pot-boilers. This view was somewhat softened into a "boy's" writer of adventure stories (TREASURE ISLAND and KIDNAPPED were the titles that usually were pushed as boy's novels).

Actually Stevenson was far from a writer for youths. TREASURE ISLAND has the perplexing, exasperating figure of Long John Silver as it's anti-hero, chum and protector of Jim Hawkins, but mutineer, pirate leader, and murderer. KIDNAPPED does the same with Aleck Breck Stewart, whose weaknesses (such as gambling and drinking) ruin a political mission. He was hardly a simple adventure novelist, anymore than the real Jules Verne was simply a French chap with an outlandish imagination regarding scientific progress.

The movies have done well by Stevenson. TREASURE ISLAND and KIDNAPPED have been made several times, as was THE MASTER OF BALLENTRAE. His novella DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE was made more frequently than any other title of his. In 1931, it earned it's star (Fredric March) the Best Actor Oscar. Even some of the lesser known works have gotten into film: THE WRONG BOX (one of two novels written with Stevenson's stepson Lloyd Osbourne) became a marvelously funny comedy about a scramble over a legacy. THE EBB TIDE was a film with Ray Milland, Lloyd Nolan, Oscar Homolka, and Barry Fitzgerald, and a good television version was made with Robby Coltrane in it. The tales of Prince Florizel of Bohemia from THE NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS became TROUBLE FOR TWO with Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell, Frank Morgan, and Reginald Owen. Finally there is this nice gem, THE BODY SNATCHER. It is based on one of Stevenson's best short stories, a moody, psychological drama about the evil that is committed supposedly in the way of greater good.

In most of these films the scripts start out with the novel or short story, but branch out into their own scenarios. Gray, the murderous but sympathetic cab man in the film is (in the story) a drunk who MacFarland actually hates. When he kills Gray for his corpse (for medical study) MacFarland is actually settling a score. The conclusion of the story is similar to the film, except that Gray's mysterious resurrection to confront the frightened MacFarland does not lead to his death, but to his total demoralization. He flees into his own oblivion at the conclusion.

Stevenson was very into history including crime and the vagaries of the law.

It has been noted in the other posts that this story owes much to the crimes of the West Port murderers of 1827-28, William Burke and William Hare (in the film Gray sings a tune about them to the drunken (and doomed) blackmailer Joseph). But this is not unusual for Stevenson. The final blow to Alan Breck Stewart's mission in KIDNAPPED is the hue and cry against him as a suspect in the Appin Murder of 1752, which led to the judicial murder of James "of the Glen" Stewart. The latter story is told in the sequel novel CATRIONA. DR.JECKYLL AND MR.HYDE is based on the story of Deacon Brodie, a wealthy cabinet maker and town councilor of Edinburgh in the 1770s and 1780s, who was a burglar at night, and who was eventually hanged on a a scaffold he had built for the city. Even in his best novel (the unfinished WEIR OF HERMISTON)the title character of Hanging Judge Weir is based on that legendary jurist Lord Braxfield, a man of strong prejudices and harsh statements.

THE BODY SNATCHER was not the first historical movie by Val Lewton's production unit. But THE BODY SNATCHER was the first of three films (all first rate) starring Boris Karloff (the others being ISLE OF THE DEAD and BEDLAM). THE BODY SNATCHER manages to set the period of the 1830s pretty well, although an early distance shot is from some routine film stock and (if you look carefully) shows a car in the distance near a flock of sheep outside of Edinburgh Castle.

The acting is actually quite good, in particular Karloff's Gray and Daniell's astonishing MacFarland. Henry Daniell was one of the best screen villains of his period, in films like CAMILLE (as Baron De Varville) and THE SEA HAWKE (as Wolfingham). He also could do comic villains (Garbitsch in Chaplin's THE GREAT DICTATOR). But this is a rare occasion where he actually shared a full screenplay with a fellow actor.

Daniell's MacFarland is in a battle to the death with Karloff's Gray, one that his mistress knows will destroy both. Both have flaws (Daniell's intellectual arrogance; Karloff's willingness to kill anyone who is expendable). But both are human too. Daniell is aware that his operation on the little girl is "flawless" but nothing improves her ability to walk. All he can do is harshly order the little girl to walk (and she doesn't). Gray sneers at him in their famous scene in the tavern, where Daniell explains his confusion at the failure of a successful operation and hits on the actual missing aspect - Gray knows that the basic cause of life is not something that MacFarland can fix, but the basis of life itself (God or nature itself - something beyond a puny mortal like the doctor). But Gray, for his cynicism and murderous ability, does wish the "wee" one could walk. Oddly enough, hearing his horse move causes the poor girl to walk finally.

It is a fine movie, and gave both Karloff and Daniell a shining moment on the screen.

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