Body Snatcher, The (1945)

The Body Snatcher (1945), produced by Val Lewton, directed by Robert Wise.

From the RL Stevenson story. Doctors in 1830s Edinburgh need cadavers for anatomy studies. With a limited supply, what do you do?

This period thriller is stiffer than others in the Val Lewton series, with the young hero being particularly wooden. Some of the actors have Scots accents, others don't. Nonetheless it was a smash hit.

Henry Daniell and Boris Karloff save it. Their mutual hatred and nasty bantering is vastly entertaining. Karloff was particularly grateful to Lewton for getting him out of the monster movies, and is quoted as saying things like "he saved my soul" and "brought me back from the dead". Many Karloff fans think this is his best performance; he is hypnotically evil, but this is disorienting because the object of his malice is no angel either.

Robert Wise contributes a commentary track for the DVD, but it is not specific to this film. Another commentator gives some ghastly details on the historical facts behind the story, as well as more history of the production.

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