IMDb > Burke & Hare (1972)
Burke & Hare
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Burke & Hare (1972) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 2 | slideshow) Videos (see all 2)
Burke & Hare -- William Burke and William Hare were a pair of enterprising street thugs who provided anatomical specimens to the Edinburgh Medical College--often by robbing the graves of the recently dead (In HD).
Burke & Hare -- Trailer for Burk & Hare


User Rating:
5.5/10   227 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
Popularity: ?
Up 8% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
View company contact information for Burke & Hare on IMDbPro.
The pimps and the prostitutes and the body-snatchers. The brothels and dens of iniquity.
Two men go into business supplying medical colleges with cadavers by robbing graves. | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
This film deserves to be better known See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Derren Nesbitt ... Burke

Harry Andrews ... Dr. Knox
Glynn Edwards ... Hare
Yootha Joyce ... Mrs. Hare

Françoise Pascal ... Marie
Yutte Stensgaard ... Janet
Robin Hawdon ... Lord Angus McPhee
Alan Tucker ... Arbuthnot
Dee Shenderey ... Mrs. Burke
Joan Carol ... Madame Thompson
Paul Greaves ... Ferguson
David Pugh ... Daft Jamie
James Hayter ... Dr. Selby
Thomas Heathcote ... Paterson
Duncan Lamont ... Dr. Saint
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Keith Anderson ... Client in Brothel
Roger Avon ... Second Guard
Stewart Bevan ... Bruce
Victor Brooks ... Butler
John J. Carney ... Guard MacKenzie
Susan Coates ... Polly
Noel Coleman ... Fire Chief (as Noël Coleman)
Brian Croucher ... Client in Brothel
Maudie Edwards ... Woman Passer-by
Caron Gardner ... Maggie
Charles Houston ... Barman
Alan Judd ... Mr. Murdoch
Paul Luty ... Cruncher
Reg Lye ... Old Joe
Roy Macready ... Merrilees
Lindsay Marsh ... Liz
Stanley McGeagh ... Sergeant MacTavish (as Stanley McCeagh)
John Moore ... Boy
Kerry Nesbitt ... Flora
Ken Parry ... Fat Man in Brothel
Christine Pilgrim ... Rosie
Frederick Piper ... Lodger
Joan Rhodes ... Hairy Mary
Bill Shine ... Landlord
Madoline Thomas ... Mary Doherty
Kenneth Thornett ... Councillor Gordon
Bob Todd ... Guard Campbell
Jerold Wells ... Landlord
Katya Wyeth ... Natalie (as Katya Wyath)
Caroline Yates ... Annie
Lewis Alexander ... Brothel Patron (uncredited)
Victor Harrington ... Onlooker (uncredited)
Walter Henry ... Market Trader (uncredited)
Aileen Lewis ... Maid (uncredited)
Jonathan Moore ... The Boy (uncredited)
Fred Wood ... Gent at market stall (in top hat) (uncredited)

Directed by
Vernon Sewell 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ernle Bradford 

Produced by
Guido Coen .... producer
Kenneth Shipman .... executive producer
Original Music by
Roger Webb 
Cinematography by
Desmond Dickinson 
Film Editing by
John Colville 
Art Direction by
Scott MacGregor 
Makeup Department
Tony Sforzini .... chief makeup artist
Barbara Sutton .... hair stylist
Ricky Rickaby .... make-up (uncredited)
Production Management
David Griffith .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ray Corbett .... assistant director
Michael Murray .... third assistant director
Art Department
Don Picton .... assistant art director
Sound Department
Barry Copland .... sound recordist (as Barry Copeland)
Special Effects by
Pat Moore .... special effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Norman Jones .... camera operator
Terry Winfield .... focus puller
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Arthur Newman .... chief wardrobe master
Mary Gibson .... wardrobe mistress (uncredited)
Music Department
The Scaffold .... music performers: title song
Other crew
Betty Harley .... continuity
Gerry Humphreys .... dubbing director
A.L. Palmer .... title background designer
Paddy Ryan .... fight sequence arranger
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Bodysnatchers" - USA (alternative title)
See more »
91 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Canada:AA (Ontario) | UK:X | UK:15 (DVD) | USA:R

Did You Know?

Final feature film of Frederick Piper.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When "Daft Jamie" is being shown at the medical school, in the close up of his foot, his toe's move.See more »
Movie Connections:
The Minstrel BoySee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
20 out of 23 people found the following review useful.
This film deserves to be better known, 28 April 2006
Author: L. Denis Brown ( from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

This British film recreates a true story (commonly known as the West Port murders) about two infamous Irish body-snatchers in early nineteenth century Edinburgh, a city which at the time was home to what was probably the most highly respected medical school in the U.K.. During this period the supply of corpses for anatomical teaching or research was limited by law to those of executed criminals, and this led to a great shortage. Unofficially the teachers of anatomy were recognised as prepared to buy additional bodies - no questions asked; and this led to a developing practice of criminally snatching bodies from new graves in cemeteries. In response some Edinburgh cemeteries, particularly St. Cuthbert's, constructed high walls with watchtowers and railings which can still be seen today.

In 1827 Hare ran a disreputable boarding house in which Burke was one of the residents. When another resident died a normal internment was arranged, but instead Burke joined Hare in replacing the corpse with a sackful of bark that was solemnly buried, and later selling the corpse to the highly respected surgeon Dr Knox. Realizing this could provide an ongoing income it is commonly believed that they subsequently took up dissension from graves, although Burke always denied this, and I believe it has never been proved. What is known is that when another resident in the boarding house was expected to die imminently, they decided to sell the body instead of burying it. Then as the death took longer than expected B & H decided to speed up the process by suffocating the victim so that the body was not marked by violence. From this point on the sky became the limit and everyone who stayed in the boarding house began to be looked upon as a potential source of wealth. Once easily identified local characters began to disappear the end was near; Burke and Hare were arrested, Hare was offered an amnesty in return for providing evidence against Burke and the latter was executed. An almost immediate consequence of these crimes was the regulation of the supply of cadavers to medical schools which commenced with the passing of the U.K. Anatomy Act in 1832.

The film tells this story, and recreates the atmosphere of old Edinburgh with reasonable accuracy. Even today Old Edinburgh has many narrow alleys and tall stone buildings with small barred windows which can be quite eerie when it is cold and foggy, so it still provides plenty of atmosphere for filming this type of story. Probably unfortunately, the film makers decided to couple the macabre story above with an attempt to provide something of a social documentary of life in early nineteenth century Scotland, and this was not received well by most of the critics who felt these two very different themes did not meld well. The situation was made worse a year later when Derren Nesbitt, the actor who played the part of Burke, was convicted on a charge of assaulting his wife. I missed the film when it was first released but found it was being revived in a local cinema when I visited Edinburgh many years later, and took the opportunity to see it then. Perhaps the facts that I was working in a medical school, and was watching this film in the place where the grim events portrayed had actually taken place, numbed my critical faculties; but I remember being totally engrossed by the film at the time. More recently I have been trying to purchase a home video copy and view it again, but it has not been released as a DVD and is now hard to find. Surprisingly I have never seen it presented on TV. I have rated it at 8 stars, this is not based on detailed recollections of the acting or dialogue, but reflects my fascination with the great sense of the period that I experienced from it at the time I saw it. Be warned that many critics would probably regard this as a totally unjustified rating The story of Burke and Hare is a natural one for presentation on film and I am surprised that this 1972 film has not yet been re-made. (A modern day version, based on a script by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh and tentatively titled The Meat Trade is to be filmed in Edinburgh this year. In this bodies are used to provide organs for transplant not cadavers for the medical school - such a fictitious work is unlikely to appeal greatly to me.) An earlier film of the original historic story was made in 1948, but at this time the British film censors set very high standards for films regarded as documentary and, although the film was based on the actual story, they would not allow the title Burke and Hare to be used. Instead it was released as The Greed of William Hart. Ironically, this earlier version has been released as a DVD which is still listed.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (7 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Burke & Hare (1972)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Re: Burke and Hare DVD versions john_chris2006
This is the best film ever made!!!!! Birkenhare
dvd stevecannell
AKA Bodybrokers Poppa T
See more »


If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
Dead Ringers Rowing with the Wind Boxcar Bertha Shadow of the Vampire Sister My Sister
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
IMDb Horror section IMDb UK section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.