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Doctor Syn (1937)

When customs and excise men arrive at the village of Dymchurch in Kent, they uncover an intricate smuggling network being coordinated by the local parson, Dr Syn. Unknown to all but a few ... See full summary »


Roy William Neill


Roger Burford (scenario), Michael Hogan (dialogue) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
George Arliss ... Dr. Syn
Margaret Lockwood ... Imogene Clegg
John Loder ... Denis Cobtree
Roy Emerton Roy Emerton ... Capt. Howard Collyer, R.N.
Graham Moffatt Graham Moffatt ... Jerry Jerk
Frederick Burtwell Frederick Burtwell ... Rash the Schoolmaster
George Merritt ... Mipps the Coffin Maker
Athole Stewart Athole Stewart ... Squire Anthony Cobtree
Wilson Coleman Wilson Coleman ... Dr. Pepper, MD
Wally Patch Wally Patch ... Collyer's Bo'sun
Meinhart Maur Meinhart Maur ... Mulatto
Muriel George ... Mrs. Waggetts, Pub Owner


When customs and excise men arrive at the village of Dymchurch in Kent, they uncover an intricate smuggling network being coordinated by the local parson, Dr Syn. Unknown to all but a few locals Dr Syn also hides a secret past, that he was once the notorious pirate Captain Clegg. Written by Fuzzball

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Most Feared Pirate Gangster of His Time!


Drama | Adventure








Release Date:

14 November 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dr. Syn See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Referenced in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) See more »


We've No Abiding City
Music by Louis Levy
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User Reviews

Honest, decent crime.
6 January 2000 | by hgallonSee all my reviews

There are some black and white films which as they grow older become more and more evergreen. (The obvious example is Casablanca). This is one such, although it may not appeal to the young and non-british. Some of its fascination lies in the attitudes, acting styles and techniques which are so neatly frozen in time. If the plot seems a little contrived here and there, or the dialogue rather stilted especially in the romantic scenes, it all adds to the feel of the period in which the film was made (rather than that in which it was set).

The plot centres on the coastal hamlet of Dymchurch, where a detachment of the Royal Navy is about to make a search for smuggled goods. The inhabitants of the village are outwardly honest and simple folk, but many of them have nefarious secrets to conceal.

The original novel "Dr. Syn", derived from Kentish local legend, was very much darker and bloodier than this film. Likewise, George Arliss's performance as the mild and unctuous parson bears little outward resemblance to the eponymous reprobate of the novel. However, Arliss's character becomes much more believable and deserving of the viewer's wholehearted sympathy towards the end of the film.

There are some other acting highlights, notably Wilson Coleman's tipsy country doctor and Graham Moffat's Dickensian fat boy. This was one of Margaret Lockwood's early starring appearances and she smiles, bursts into tears and pouts beautifully throughout.

The action sequences all start suddenly without any preceding build-up of tension, and end even more quickly. The comic aspects of the film are given greater emphasis than the action and this adds to the general lightness of atmosphere. The only menacing undertones are provided by the constant references to dark goings-on on the surrounding marshes, and Meinhard Maur's performance as the mutilated mulatto seaman, intent on revenge.

All in all, the film is delightful nonsense which deserves more attention than it has received.

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