Both Timothy Dalton and Jonathan Pryce have appeared in James Bond films. Dalton played the role of Bond in "The Living Daylights" and "Licence To Kill". Pryce would play a villain in "Tomorrow Never Dies" (when Pierce Brosnan was playing Bond). See more »
Doctor Thomas Rock:
I don't need any friends, I prefer enemies. They're better company and their feelings towards you are always genuine.
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This is a grim, oppressive, stylish take on the Burke and Hare story that has also inspired such films as Robert Wises' "The Body Snatcher". As has been pointed out, this production by Mel Brooks's company Brooksfilms is clearly inspired by Hammer films of the past - right down to the use of renowned cinematographer and sometime director Freddie Francis. The look of this film is incredible, with intense period recreation & depictions of squalor, and limited use of colour. The actors couldn't be better; the roles are well cast all the way down the line. It also poses the kind of moral questions that would naturally arise from such a story: just what should be permissible in the pursuit of knowledge and hopefully betterment of mankind? How far is too far; what should constitute the "moral" thing to do? Francis and his cast & crew do a solid, if not altogether memorable, job of putting it all together.
This is based on a 1940s screenplay by the great playwright Dylan Thomas, which was then revised by Ronald Harwood ("The Dresser", "The Pianist"). It stars a distinguished Timothy Dalton as Thomas Rock, a doctor / researcher / instructor frustrated with having to settle for the bodies of hanged men for study purposes. So he's supplied with bodies by grave robbers including despicable lowlifes Robert Fallon (Jonathan Pryce) and Timothy Broom (Stephen Rea), who recognize the profit to be made from such an activity. Now, when it becomes a matter of bodies needing to be as "fresh" as possible, Fallon and Broom turn out to be willing to turn to murder to achieve the right product.
The wonderful group of actors also features Julian Sands as Murray, Rocks' young associate who falls in love with world weary prostitute Jennie Bailey (Twiggy), Phyllis Logan as Rocks' wife, Sian Phillips as his sister, Beryl Reid as old Mrs. Flynn, and Patrick Stewart as Professor Macklin. They're all convincing in the kind of environment that Hammer always created so well. Pryce is a standout as the depraved Fallon of whom even Broom becomes wary, convinced that Fallon is enjoying the act of murder much too much. The tale ultimately turns rather conventional, but it's still a tale well told, and Rock is commendably played as a two- dimensional character, no true villain but a man with his own sense of right and wrong, and an attitude of "the ends always justify the means". Often the most intriguing characters are ones that occupy "grey areas", and Rock is just such a man.
Highly recommended to those who favour the Gothic horror of decades past.
Seven out of 10.
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