DR. CRIPPEN (1962) Reviews and overview

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‘If you want to remember your wife, send flowers. If you want to dismember her see…’

Doctor Crippen is a 1962 British true-crime film about the Edwardian doctor who was hanged in 1910 for the murder of his wife. Directed by Robert Lynn (Eve; Killer’s Carnival; Code 7, Victim 5) from a screenplay written by Leigh Vance (The Black Windmill; Curse of the Voodoo; The Frightened City).

The Torchlight Productions movie stars Donald Pleasence (Phantom of Death; Halloween 1978 and sequels; The Mutations), Samantha Eggar (Curtains; Demonoid; The Brood), Coral Browne (Theatre of Blood), Donald Wolfit (The Hands of Orlac; Blood of the Vampire) and James Robertson Justice.

The cinematography was by Nicolas Roeg (The Masque of the Red Death 1964; director of The Witches; The Man Who Fell to Earth; Don’t Look Now; Performance).


” …sincere historical reconstruction about the infamous Edwardian murderer blending courtroom and melodrama. The direction from tv helmer Robert Lynn is satisfactory and is brightly captured in atmospheric black-and-white by cinematographer Nicolas Roeg.” Britmovie

” …this telling of the story is singularly unsensational; in fact, I would go so far to say that the movie itself is pretty dry and a little on the dull side. The performances are quite good, especially from Pleasence and Eggar, but they can’t quite overcome the lack of energy here…” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

” …Coral Browne who steals the movie as Belle Crippen […] The scene where Belle drunkenly sneers at a dinner guest to “stop being so English” as she quaffs another brandy is both pathetic and very funny, heightened by Crippen’s relentlessly blank expression. Browne’s towering performance alone is reason enough to make Doctor Crippen worth seeking out.” Future Movies

” …well, one must give good scores to Mr. Pleasence, Miss Browne, Miss Eggar and the rest of the cast for giving a sense of solemnity and suffocation to this stiff tale…the mystery, the action and the pathos are all too academic and thin—too milky and uneventful — except for those who are real Crippen fans.” The New York Times

Cast and characters:

Donald Pleasence … Doctor Crippen
Samantha Eggar … Ethel Le Neve
Coral Browne … Belle Elmore
Donald Wolfit … R.D. Muir (as Sir Donald Wolfit)
James Robertson Justice … Captain McKenzie
John Arnatt … Inspector Dew
Paul Carpenter … Bruce Martin
Oliver Johnston … Lord Chief Justice
John Lee … Harry
Olga Lindo … Mrs Arditti
Elspeth March … Mrs Jackson
Geoffrey Toone … Tobin
Edward Underdown … The Governor
Douglas Bradley-Smith … Doctor Pepper
Hamilton Dyce … Doctor Rogers
Basil Henson … Mr Arditti
Totti Truman Taylor … Miss Curnow
Edward Cast … Harding
Colin Rix … Chemist

Filming locations:

The Elstree Studios of Associated British Picture Corporation, Hertfordshire, England

Technical details:

98 minutes

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