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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.

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(short story), (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:
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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:

The Screen's Last Word in Shock Sensation! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

October 1945 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher  »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The stock footage that opens the film does not actually depict Edinburgh, Scotland. It was in fact footage of California, where this movie was filmed. See more »

Goofs

When MacFarlane and Gray gaze into the mirror and we then see their reflections in a separate shot, the partings in their hair change etc as one would expect on seeing their reflections, but Gray is now sitting on the opposite side of MacFarlane to where his reflection would actually be - i.e. Gray is sitting on MacFarlane's left so would be reflected as sitting on the right of MacFarlane reflection, not reflected still sitting to the left of MacFarlane's reflection like in the movie. The reflections were obviously filmed after a cut and the actor's swapped places in error to film that scene. See more »

Quotes

Cabman John Gray: You've no need to be anxious, Meg. MacFarlane has been drunk and away before. He'll be beck in good time. Meanwhile, you have me to keep you company.
Meg Camden: I call that no good fortune.
Cabman John Gray: [laughs] There was a time, lass, a time when I used to bring the dashing young doctor to your door, but you weren't so uncommon cold to your old friend Gray.
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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

Version of The Flesh and the Fiends (1960) 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
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User Reviews

 
Great atmospheric chiller!
19 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

Val Lewton has produced some of the most important horror classics of all time. His collaborations with the great Jacques Tourneur are the most noteworthy in his filmography, but some of the others are of note also. Like this one for example. The Body Snatcher is a psychological horror film, a study of guilt, and an expose on how people sometimes have to do bad things in order to do good, even though those bad deeds may well consume them. This is shown through the story of Wolfe MacFarlane, a doctor and teacher of medicine that employs cabbie John Gray to steal corpses from the local cemetery so that he can use them to show his students how to operate on a patient. However, this arrangement has put the cabbie/gravedigger in a position of power over the upper class doctor, and that is something that John Gray intends to capitalise on...

Boris Karloff stars as the grave digging John Gray, and does an absolutely excellent job with it. Karloff has to prove nothing to nobody after his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster, but his embodiment of exactly what you would expect a grave robbing, amoral lower class man to be like is right on cue. Fellow legend Bela Lugosi makes a welcome, if brief appearance also and the other lead role is taken by Henry Daniell. I haven't seen this man before...well, I didn't think I had - he's actually been in many well-respected classics including The Philadelphia Story and The Great Dictator. He does a great job as the lead; his performance bodes well with the film, and just like Karloff he's very believable in his role. The real star of the show, however, is the lush black and white cinematography which capture's the movie's many beautiful settings. Val Lewton has become famous for capturing this sort of atmosphere, and The Body Snatcher is one of the films that does it best.

The use of 'less is more' is right on cue in this film, and there is one sequence in particular involving Boris Karloff, a dark alley and a street singer that will be of particular note to film fans. In short; The Body Snatcher is a great horror film, and one that anyone who considers themselves a fan of great horror will not want to miss!


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