THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS
BURKE AND HARE
A review by THE TIMES
The Flesh and the Fiends, a new British film now to be seen at the Rialto Cinema, tells the story of Dr. Knox's dedication to anatomical research in Edinburgh during the 1820s, and of the corpses provided for him by his two infamous "resurrectionists," Burke and Hare. It is a horrific story, and the film is at pains to emphasize its more ghastly aspects. This is to be regretted, for, apart from its unnecessary emphasis on horror, The Flesh and the Fiends is a competent piece of work, concisely written, with tension dramatically sustained and well acted in both its major and minor parts. The director, Mr. John Gilling, has a feeling for the period and is well supported by Mr. Peter Cushing as Dr. Knox, a sarcastic and autocratic figure whose only interest lies in the pursuit of anatomical knowledge.
The film's major fault, apart from its recurrent horrors, is the curious way in which Burke and Hare are presented. This grotesque and evil pair lose reality in their moments of sardonic humour, and thus step out of character in a way which the director should never have allowed. The crowd scenes at the finish are well handled, and the atmosphere of the Edinburgh slums is convincingly created. Burke is played by Mr. George Rose, Hare by Mr. Donald Pleasence, and an effective portrait of an Edinburgh trollop is provided by Miss Billie Whitelaw.
From the February 8, 1960 edition of THE TIMES.
Review © 1960 THE TIMES. All Rights Reserved.
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Above photo courtesy of Tim Murphy and Kent Burton
Photos © 1959 TRIAD / VALIANT--PACEMAKER. All Rights Reserved.
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