7.3/10
7,793
103 user 68 critic

The Body Snatcher (1945)

Approved | | Horror, Thriller | October 1945 (UK)
Trailer
1:40 | Trailer
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 »
Edit

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
Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

On a Greek island during the 1912 war, several people are trapped by quarantine for the plague. If that isn't enough worry, one of the people, a superstitious old peasant woman, suspects ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Boris Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The young, friendless daughter of Oliver and Alice Reed befriends her father's dead first wife and an aging, reclusive actress.

Directors: Gunther von Fritsch, Robert Wise
Stars: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Jane Randolph
Bedlam (1946)
Drama | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Nell Bowen, the spirited protege of rich Lord Mortimer, becomes interested in the conditions of notorious St. Mary's of Bethlehem Asylum (Bedlam). Encouraged by the Quaker Hannay, she tries... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, Billy House
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A nurse is hired to care for the wife of a sugar plantation owner, who has been acting strangely, on a Caribbean island.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Frances Dee, Tom Conway, James Ellison
Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A seemingly tame leopard used for a publicity stunt escapes and kills a young girl, spreading panic throughout a sleepy New Mexico town.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Margo, Jean Brooks
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Tom Merriam signs on the ship Altair as third officer under Captain Stone. At first things look good, Stone sees Merriam as a younger version of himself and Merriam sees Stone as the first ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Richard Dix, Russell Wade, Edith Barrett
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A woman in search of her missing sister uncovers a Satanic cult in New York's Greenwich Village, and finds that they may have something to do with her sibling's random disappearance.

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Kim Hunter, Tom Conway, Jean Brooks
The Raven (1935)
Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can't have her.

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews
The Black Cat (1934)
Adventure | Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners
Cat People (1942)
Fantasy | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together.

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Simone Simon, Tom Conway, Kent Smith
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A scientist becomes murderous after discovering, and being exposed to the radiation of, a powerful new element called Radium X.

Director: Lambert Hillyer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake
Black Friday (1940)
Crime | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Dr. Sovac transplants the brain of a gangster into his professor friend's body to save his life, but there is a side effect that causes a dangerous split personality.

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Stanley Ridges

Photos

Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Due to the poor health of Bela Lugosi, the actor initially struggled to complete his own scenes. According to studio reports, Boris Karloff was most patient in the filming of the scene between the two actors. See more »

Goofs

The scene in the pub right after it's announced that MacFarlane sold Gray's horse and buggy for a mere four pounds and the new owner is embarrassed into buying him a drink. Right after the barmaid goes to fetch him one, Fettes enters the pub to talk to the Doctor. When the barmaid returns, she has two drinks. Yet she had no indication that MacFarlane was meeting anyone, and the doctor didn't know Fettes was looking for him. 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.
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

SPOILER: The 4-Front UK video, released in 1998, was the first time (including TV screenings) the The Body Snatcher had ever been shown uncut in the UK. Previous versions were missing nearly 7 minutes of footage cut by the BBFC back in 1946. The cuts were as follows:
  • all references to to the names Burke & Hare were removed from dialogue scenes. This includes the scene just before Karloff kills Lugosi in which he explains how he "Burked them" and sings a little song and also trims to a dialogue scene near the end in which Henry Daniels' mistress explains to the young hero Daniels' sordid past. At least three other small cuts in scenes when characters refer to the names Burke and Hare.
  • the scene in which Karloff kills Lugosi was missing several shots of Karloff smothering Lugosi's mouth with his hand. A later shot of Lugosi dead in a barrel of water also cut.
  • an entire dialogue scene was removed in which Karloff takes a body to the doctor and demands his money. In the cut version you only see Karloff taking the body in. The uncut version has a whole additional exchange between Karloff and Daniell's assistant. The assistant accuses Karloff of murdering the person and Karloff (being very menacing) says he is mistaken and asks for his money which the assistant reluctantly gives him - the following scene when the assistant voices his suspicions to Daniell the next day is in the cut print.
  • the ending is abridged to removed various shots of Karloff's naked torso in a death grip round Daniell. In the cut print you hardly see Karloff at all.
See more »

Connections

Version of Horror Maniacs (1948) 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 »

User Reviews

 
Sinisterly marvellous!
18 August 2005 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

A sinister coach driver John Gray (Boris Karloff) supplies corpses for Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) and his assistant Donald Fettes (Russel Wade), but things start going pair shape when Dr. Wolfe finds out more about where these corpses are coming from, as supplies are running short and he tries to get rid of Gray, who doesn't share his buddy's (or Toddy's) thoughts. Another thing on their minds is that a mother of a young girl with a bad vertebra that's getting worse asks Dr. Wolfe for his help, but he refuses at first. But with the constant bugging from assistant Fettes, he finally goes ahead with the operation.

The more I watch this film, the better it seems to get! Val Lewton's "The Body Snatcher", which is set in the year 1831, Edinburgh - is an excellently well-handled thriller that holds SUCH great performances from the likes of Boris Karloff, Henry Daniell, Russel Wade, Edith Atwater and Bela Lugosi. What shines and drives the film other than its performances - is the intelligent screenplay and hypnotic atmosphere and setting that reeks of death and coldness. The foggy, empty and dark streets of Edinburgh during the night have an approaching sense of menace, especially when Karloff is on screen. An impressive Boris Karloff as John Gray the Cabman evokes such tension and depth. He always makes his presence distinguishable, with the scenes he's in being the most interesting. His appearance and body language has some unsettling effect - in a captivating way. His performance in my opinion is up there with the likes of "The Mummy" and "Bride Of Frankenstein". I read a lot positive remarks towards Karloff's performance, but IMHO Henry Daniell was equally as good. He's great as the troubled Dr. Wolfe, who is haunted by Gray. You could say he was the backbone of the film. When these two shared the screen, is when the fireworks certainly occurred. Russel Wade is quite sympathetic in his role, as the reluctant assistant who gets drawn into Dr. Wolfe's mess. Edith Atwater delivers a sound performance and there's basically a neat cameo role by Bela Lugosi.

I wasn't bored, but for some people it might be a tad too slow and real talkative, as what this film thrives on, is its vivid literature, well-rounded characters and potently gripping confrontations, especially between Wolfe and Gray. The story has its moments of psychological suspense that steadily develops into a thrilling and powerful finale (that has the usual thunderstorm evident). The way the final lines of dialogue were set up in that sequence is truly unnerving. Also throw in elements of greed, guilt and pride and how it gets the better of people. So there is a moral to all of this. Sudden shocks and jolts fill the film, but definitely not cheap ones. Mostly the deaths are implied, though there is great use of sound in those situations eg. The sound of a horse trotting. It's very effective! It isn't stylish or spirited directing by Robert Wise, but to cap it off, he achieves a downright inventive and believable movie piece.

My only small complaint is that it could've been a much darker film, but it's the lightness of the sub-plot about the crippled girl that "slightly" spoilt it. Was it trying for an innocent point of view?Nonetheless, it's still my favourite Lewton/Karloff film, to date.

"Never get rid of me!"


27 of 29 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 103 user reviews »

Videos

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

October 1945 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Robert Louis Stevenson's The Body Snatcher See more »

Edit

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 »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series



Recently Viewed