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The Body Snatcher (1945)

Approved | | Horror , Thriller | October 1945 (UK)
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A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writers:

Robert Louis Stevenson (short story), Philip MacDonald (written for the screen by) | 1 more credit »
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3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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 Donna Lee ... Street Singer
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Storyline

In Edinburgh in 1831, Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane runs a medical school where Donald Fettes is a student. Fettes is interested in helping a young girl who has lost the use of her legs. He is certain that MacFarlane's surgical skills could be put to great use but he is reluctant to do so. The good Dr. MacFarlane has a secret that soon becomes all too obvious to young Fettes, who has only recently been promoted as his assistant: he has been paying a local cabbie, John Gray, to supply him with dead bodies for anatomical research. Gray constantly harasses MacFarlane and clearly has a hold over him dating to a famous trial many years before where Gray refused to identify the man for whom he was robbing graves. Fettes isn't aware of any of this but soon realizes exactly how Gray obtains the bodies they use in their anatomy classes. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

INVADED!...the sanctuary of the Dead!...by the Hero of Horror!...and the Master of Menace! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1945 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$125,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Wise on Henry Daniell: "Henry was as far from a complainer as any I've ever known. He'd walk onto the set, do his work like the pro he was, do it damn good, and then quietly leave without being a burden to anybody. Period." See more »

Goofs

When John Gray puts the blade into the bread, it moves dramatically over the next few shots. 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 »

Crazy Credits

Closing credits epilogue: "It is through error that man tries and rises. It is through tragedy he learns. All the roads of learning begin in darkness and go out into the light" Hippocrates of Cos See more »

Connections

Referenced in Best of the Worst: Ninja Movies (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Huntingtower
(uncredited)
("When Ye Gang Awa, Jamie")
(Traditional Scottish folk song)
sung by Donna Lee
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Classy Old 'Horror' Film
12 February 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

As of this writing, I have seen four of the nine Val Lewton DVD Horror Collection films and this one was, by far, the best.

Henry Daniell, Boris Karloff, Edith Atwater,Russell Wade, Sharyn Moffet and Bela Lugosi all acted well. I had forgotten that Karloff was a decent actor, not just some Frankenstein monster who couldn't deliver a line. He had a creepy voice, too, which lent itself nicely to horror films. I just found him fascinating here.

In addition, this movie had a well-known director, Robert Wise, and the story was adaption of a Robert Louis Steevenson. So, you see, this film had good bloodlines, pun intended. This was not some schlocky Ed Wood B-film. This movie is a high class affair.

I found it more of a crime story than anything else as a doctor (Daniell), trying to further his knowledge and needing human specimens (dead) to continue his research, has his graveyard supply cut off to him and then has to have his helper (Karloff) kill people to provide him the bodies. Meanwhile, a young and more moral student of the doctor, gets wind of what's happening and doesn't share his mentor's view that the "ends justify the means."

At any rate, this a keeper. Like the other Lewton films I've seen, it's well- photographed, too. I can only hope a few of the five I haven't seen yet are this good.


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