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The Body Snatcher (1945)

Approved | | Horror, Thriller | October 1945 (UK)
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1:39 | Trailer

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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 »
Reviews
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:

No punches pulled...No details hidden...No facts sugar-coated in this startling and horrific expose of the methods used by surgeons years ago to get bodies for dissection! 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

This film received its initial television presentations in Los Angeles Saturday 5 May 1956 on KHJ (Channel 9) and in Memphis Friday 18 May 1956 on WHBQ (Channel 13); it first aired in Philadelphia Wednesday 29 September 1956 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Altoona Friday 5 October 1956 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Columbus Saturday 3 November 1956 on WLW-C (Channel 4), in Boston Friday 9 November 1956 on WNAC (Channel 7), in San Francisco Sunday 11 November 1956 on KPIX (Channel 5), in Detroit Friday 16 November 1956 on WJBK (Channel 2), and in New York City Saturday 5 January 1957 on WOR (Channel 9). See more »

Goofs

When Gray kills Joseph, the latter's right arm is stretched out from his shoulder at a 90 degree angle and Gray reaches over to shoo away his cat who begins to nuzzle Joseph's right hand. In the next shot, the right arm of the dead Joseph has suddenly moved to a position where it lies parallel to his body. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Wolfe 'Toddy' MacFarlane: What is Gray to me? He's a man from whom I buy what I need when I need it. The rest is forgotten.
Meg Camden: You may deny him, Toddy, but you'll not rid yourself of him by saying the devil's dead.
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 »

Alternate Versions

Five cuts were made by the British censors on its initial release, mainly references to Burke and Hare, the original bodysnatchers. This cut print has been the only one available in the UK until 1998, when a complete version appeared on the budget video label 4-Front. See more »

Connections

Featured in TJ and the All Night Theatre: The Body Snatcher (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Poor Daft Jamie
(uncredited)
("Elegiac Lines on the Tragical Murder of Poor Daft Jamie")
Scottish folk song (1829)
Sung by Boris Karloff
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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