Review: ‘The Body Snatcher’

Based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, and given tightly scripted adaptation, Snatcher seldom lacks interest. Yarn deals with the traffic on dead bodies by hansom cabbie Boris Karloff. Corpses are used for study purposes in a medical school mastered by Henry Daniell. Russell Wade, young assistant to Daniell, is caught in the web of the illicit dealings, with Edith Atwater playing the wife of Daniell. Bela Lugosi is seen briefly as a handyman at the med school.

Based on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, and given tightly scripted adaptation, Snatcher seldom lacks interest. Yarn deals with the traffic on dead bodies by hansom cabbie Boris Karloff. Corpses are used for study purposes in a medical school mastered by Henry Daniell. Russell Wade, young assistant to Daniell, is caught in the web of the illicit dealings, with Edith Atwater playing the wife of Daniell. Bela Lugosi is seen briefly as a handyman at the med school.

Karloff portrays his sadistic role in characteristic style, but best performance comes from Daniell. Lugosi is more or less lost, probably on the cutting floor, since he is only in for two sequences.

Body Snatcher is located in Scotland over a century ago. Settings are inexpensive but sufficient for the needs. Production values, in general, however, aid materially in making this picture a winner.

The Body Snatcher

Production

RKO. Director Robert Wise; Producer Val Lewton; Screenplay Philip MacDonald, Carlos Keith; Camera Robert de Grasse; Editor J.R. Whittredge; Music Roy Webb; Art Director Albert S. D'Agostino, Walter E. Keller

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1945. Running time: 70 MIN.

With

Boris Karloff Bela Lugosi Henry Daniell Edith Atwater Russell Wade Rita Corday
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