The Body Snatcher - 1945
The Body Snatcher - Released May 25, 1945. Directed by Robert Wise
Cabman Gray: What makes a thought start?
Dr. MacFarlane: The brain, I tell you I know!
Cabman Gray: You don't know and you'll never know! Look, look at yourself. Could you be a doctor, a healing man, with the things those eyes have seen? There's a lot of knowledge in those eyes, but no understanding...
Henry Daniell and Boris Karloff are in a 77-minute duel of will in The Body Snatcher as an ethically (and emotionally) compromised upper-class doctor (Daniell) finds himself in the power of the working class cabman John Gray (Karloff) a fellow who ferries both living and dead bodies, for a fee.
Daniell (as Dr. Wolfe MacFarlane) intends to do better and fly right, but with Karloff gleefully watching his every move and holding certain old secrets over his head, it just isn't going to happen. Bela Lugosi has a minor character in the tale who intends to cut-in on the blackmail game being played, but this turns out to be a very badly thought-out maneuver.
Daniell and Karloff are very good together and continually move the story into places that the camera can't show, that is, how the two men have separate bodies but share a mutual experience that Gray won't forget and MacFarlane keeps trying to, small comments eluding to things never completely explained. Each actor provides long, restrained performances that use subtle modulations to let you know where everything is headed (Lugosi's small role is equally restrained, helping to turn the film into an unusual piece of drama for an exploitation title, especially while starring two of horrordom's two biggest names.)
Robert Wise (and producer Val Lewton) keep the movie shuttling along, handling the material as if it isn't really a horror film but a period drama, but this can't be maintained, really, and it becomes a sideways-retelling of the real cadaver-supply scandal that happened in Edinburgh, Scotland, where two men named Burke and Hare took up the matter of finding corpses for medical schools to conduct training and research on, and then became not-too-picky about how they maintained the lucrative and steady supply of bodies. As much as this is the premise for the horror elements of Lewton and Wise's little movie about grave-robbing (via Karloff's cabman), the real story is about two men (Daniell and Karloff) in a wrestle for the control of Dr. MacFarlane's soul.
Original Page November 6, 2016
Starring Miss Barbara Stanwyck [Illustrated with 310 Photographs] - amazon.com
Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial
- Central Park - 1932 - Joan Blondell has trouble on her hands when she gets suckered into helping a gangster to rob a charity event. Though this film stars Joan and Wallace Ford, it also features the American Great Depression which is the background for the hunger and desperation that flavors the film.
- Robert Osborne - 1932 - 2017 - The "Movie Man" who worked as a film historian and host for The Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies.
- Classic Cinema releases to DVD, Blu Ray and Streaming - March 2017 List
- Torchy (Glenda Farrell) Gets Her Manand solves crimes faster than her boyfriend (a policeman) and the whole police force.
- Get Smart - 2008 - Maxwell Smart is back in action with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) on a mission into Russia which turns into a hunt for a traitor within CONTROL's ranks - - and everyone is starting to think it might be Agent 86.
- Ernest Saves Christmas - 1988 - Florida seems like the wrong place to find a missing Santa Clause, but taxi driver Ernest locates him there all the same.
- Jeopardy 1953 - - A Mexican vacation goes off the rails when escaped American convict (Ralph Meeker) hijacks Barbara Stanwyck.
- Zorba The Greek 1964 - Alan Bates and Anthony Quinn are on Crete, with Irene Papas
- Frankenstein Island - 1981 - The plot moves slowly and often doesn't seem to make sense in this legendary bad film featuring a projected image of John Carradine that rattles off incoherant dialogue.
- The Lady Vanishes - 1938 - Hitchcock's famous film about a disappearing lady aboard a trans-continental train. Except for one stubborn young female passenger [who is consequently accused of mental instability] no one aboard can remember the vanished elderly Miss Froy.
- White Zombie - 1932 - Bela Lugosi likes making zombies, and this comes in handy when a local plantation owner on Haiti decides if he can't woo a certain girl to be his wife, he'll have Lugosi turn her into a mindless slave that he can command.