The Doctor and the Devils (1985)

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The Doctor and the Devils: Directed by Freddie Francis. With Timothy Dalton, Jonathan Pryce, Twiggy, Julian Sands. In Victorian England, two grave robbers supply a wealthy doctor with bodies to research anatomy on, but greed causes them to look for a more simple way to get the job done. Based on the horrifying Burke and Hare case.

“This is a grim, oppressive, stylish take on the Burke and Hare story that has also inspired such films as Robert Wisesu0026#39; u0026quot;The Body Snatcheru0026quot;. As has been pointed out, this production by Mel Brooksu0026#39;s company Brooksfilms is clearly inspired by Hammer films of the past – right down to the use of renowned cinematographer and sometime director Freddie Francis. The look of this film is incredible, with intense period recreation u0026amp; depictions of squalor, and limited use of colour. The actors couldnu0026#39;t be better; the roles are well cast all the way down the line. It also poses the kind of moral questions that would naturally arise from such a story: just what should be permissible in the pursuit of knowledge and hopefully betterment of mankind? How far is too far; what should constitute the u0026quot;moralu0026quot; thing to do? Francis and his cast u0026amp; crew do a solid, if not altogether memorable, job of putting it all together.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThis is based on a 1940s screenplay by the great playwright Dylan Thomas, which was then revised by Ronald Harwood (u0026quot;The Dresseru0026quot;, u0026quot;The Pianistu0026quot;). It stars a distinguished Timothy Dalton as Thomas Rock, a doctor / researcher / instructor frustrated with having to settle for the bodies of hanged men for study purposes. So heu0026#39;s supplied with bodies by grave robbers including despicable lowlifes Robert Fallon (Jonathan Pryce) and Timothy Broom (Stephen Rea), who recognize the profit to be made from such an activity. Now, when it becomes a matter of bodies needing to be as u0026quot;freshu0026quot; as possible, Fallon and Broom turn out to be willing to turn to murder to achieve the right product.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe wonderful group of actors also features Julian Sands as Murray, Rocksu0026#39; young associate who falls in love with world weary prostitute Jennie Bailey (Twiggy), Phyllis Logan as Rocksu0026#39; wife, Sian Phillips as his sister, Beryl Reid as old Mrs. Flynn, and Patrick Stewart as Professor Macklin. Theyu0026#39;re all convincing in the kind of environment that Hammer always created so well. Pryce is a standout as the depraved Fallon of whom even Broom becomes wary, convinced that Fallon is enjoying the act of murder much too much. The tale ultimately turns rather conventional, but itu0026#39;s still a tale well told, and Rock is commendably played as a two- dimensional character, no true villain but a man with his own sense of right and wrong, and an attitude of u0026quot;the ends always justify the meansu0026quot;. Often the most intriguing characters are ones that occupy u0026quot;grey areasu0026quot;, and Rock is just such a man.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eHighly recommended to those who favour the Gothic horror of decades past.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eSeven out of 10.”


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