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The Anatomist (1956)

A doctor employs two men to dig up graves in order for him to have bodies on which to perform experiments, but the men begin to get their own ideas of where to get bodies.


Dennis Vance


James Bridie (play), Harry Alan Towers (as Leonard William) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
Alastair Sim ... Dr. Knox
George Cole ... Dr. Walter Anderson
Adrienne Corri ... Mary Paterson
Jill Bennett ... Mary Belle
Margaret Gordon Margaret Gordon ... Amelia
David Blake Kelly David Blake Kelly ... Burke (as Diarmuid Kelly)
Michael Ripper ... Hare
Peter Halliday ... Adolphus Raby
Frank Taylor Frank Taylor ... Paterson
Jefferson Clifford Jefferson Clifford ... Nebby
Doria Noar Doria Noar ... Janet
Irene Sunters Irene Sunters ... Jessie Ann


A doctor employs two men to dig up graves in order for him to have bodies on which to perform experiments, but the men begin to get their own ideas of where to get bodies.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Horror







Release Date:

October 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

International Theatre: The Anatomist See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

Dullest version of the Burke and Hare story
17 March 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

Don't be fooled by the outstanding cast - out of the five variations on the Burke and Hare tale filmed in Britain over the years, THE ANATOMIST is definitely the most boring, a cheap-jack drawing-room drama which keeps all of the action off-screen. Aside from a brief sequence at the beginning, there is no grave-robbing, we only hear and do not see the angry mob at the film's close, nor do we see Burke's hanging or any murders. Instead what we get is a poverty-row production which uneasily mixes horror with comedic aspects (unavoidable considering the film's cast) which in the end comes off as preachy and downright dull. This is a film where scenes of dry dialogue last twenty-five minutes at a time and even strong acting can't help to improve what is essentially an academic script.

A shame, because often with poverty-row productions like this (filmed for television no less), an air of realism is attained that glossier, higher-budgeted dramas cannot hope to obtain. There are indeed a couple of good scenes - the sleazy sequence in which Burke and Hare seduce Adrienne Corri, or the exciting life-or-death climax, but these do not help the rest of the static scenes which turn the eighty-minute odd running time into something that feels like three hours. Alastair Sim himself is delightfully pompous as Dr. Knox but he doesn't beat Peter Cushing's performance in THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS; he's too human and cuddly come the film's close. George Cole is pretty hopeless as the emoting young male lead who is torn between his love for Knox and his love for his girlfriend, played by the supremely irritating Jill Bennett; he should have stuck to comedy. It's left for performers to shine in minor roles, like Adrienne Corri's feisty drunken girl and Michael Ripper's outstanding turn as the squalid, sleazy, downright grotesque graverobber Burke, ironically one of his best performances in one of his worst films.

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