Edinburgh surgeon Dr. Robert Knox requires cadavers for his research into the functioning of the human body; local ne'er-do-wells Burke and Hare find ways to provide him with fresh ... See full summary »
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Robert S. Baker,
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Edinburgh surgeon Dr. Robert Knox requires cadavers for his research into the functioning of the human body; local ne'er-do-wells Burke and Hare find ways to provide him with fresh specimens... Written by
Mark Doran <email@example.com>
This film is an adaptation of the story of real-life killers William Burke and William Hare who, around 1827 in Edinburgh, Scotland, did provide more than a dozen "fresh" corpses to the anatomist Dr. Knox. See more »
Dr. Robert Knox:
Before commencing this morning's lecture, let us consider the Oath of Hippocrates, the sacred oath of our profession: "I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone."
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The Dyaliscope logo in the main titles misspells the widescreen process as "Dylascope". See more »
Possibly Peter Cushing's finest performance on film
THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS followed in the wake of the success of Hammer Films' early successes. Although not actually a Hammer Film Production, it shares many stylistic points with Hammer. However, the script is a largely accurate version of the history of the body snatchers, Burke and Hare, and their main customer, Dr. Robert Knox.
Although there are memorable performances in this film, it is Peter Cushing's work as Dr. Knox that ultimately stands out. During the 1820's in Edinburgh, Scotland, Dr. Knox illegally bought cadavers from Burke and Hare. In spite of every reason to be suspicious of Burke and Hare, Dr. Know persisted in obtaining cadavers from them for medical lectures. To Dr. Knox, the training of competent doctors took precedent over ethical considerations.
In a remarkable scene in the denouement, a little girl in the street begs alms from Dr. Knox. Cushing tells her that he doesn't have any money with him, but if she will step over to his house he will give her some. The little girl politely declines the offer, saying, "Oh, no, you might be Dr. Knox." Cushing's unspoken response is truly unforgettable. It makes you realize that Peter Cushing was really a fine actor. What a pity his talent was too often wasted in pictures that were beneath him.
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