Film / The Body Snatcher

Dr. MacFarlane: What is Gray to me? He's a man from whom I buy what I need when I need it. The rest is forgotten.
Meg Camden: You may deny him, Toddy, but you'll not rid yourself of him by saying the devil's dead.

Loosely based on the short story of the same name (which you can read here for comparison), The Body Snatcher is a 1945 horror film directed by Robert Wise, and produced by Val Lewton. It is notable for being the last film to have both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi together.

Set in Scotland in 1831, the story opens up on an aspiring young man, Donald Fettes, who is training to be a doctor under one Dr. Wolfe "Toddy" MacFarlane. However, Dr. MacFarlane's dirty secret is he has hired a cabman, John Gray, to dig up bodies as specimens for dissection. Soon, the doctor starts to get blackmailed by his worker, who in turn began murdering to provide fresher bodies.

Not to be confused with the sci-fi movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Needs Wiki Magic Love.

The film has the following tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Gray comes of as this, especially to 'Toddy' and to a paralyzed young girl he brings to see MacFarlane. Don't be fooled, beneath that he's one of the vilest characters Karloff ever portrayed.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Though he's mentioned it a couple of times, it's hard to tell if Donald Fettes chose to remain training to be a doctor, or went down a different path.
  • Anti-Hero: MacFarlane is a type III.
  • Arc Words: "You'll never get rid of me, Toddy."
  • Blackmail: Joseph thinks that he'll be able to get easy money by blackmailing Gray. He gets strangled by him.
  • Driven to Madness: MacFarlane, who starts stealing bodies himself after Gray's death (and who suffers a Villainous Breakdown shortly afterwards).
  • Dr. Jerk: MacFarlane, in contrast to his student Fettes.
  • For Science!: How MacFarlane justifies his body snatching.
  • Grave Robbing: The Movie.
  • Ill Girl: Georgina Marsh, who has a crippling spinal disorder.
  • Kick the Dog: Gray actually kills one before kicking it aside to dig up its master's body. His character morale goes downhill from there.
  • Shovel Strike: Gray kills a dog that's barking at him when he goes to a graveyard to do his trade.
  • Signature Sound Effect: The white horse's clip-clops.
  • Sound-Only Death: The street singer's death is signified by a sudden silence when Gray reaches her.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: MacFarlane's Motive Rant would indicate he's so devoted to his job (and advancing medical science) that he sees nothing wrong with stealing corpses. How much of this is sincere and how much simply self-justification is open to debate.