Dr. Crippen


Crime / Drama / History / Horror

IMDb Rating 6.3 10 508

Plot summary

November 04, 2022 at 08:26 PM


Robert Lynn

Top cast

Donald Pleasence as Dr. Crippen
James Robertson Justice as Captain McKenzie
Samantha Eggar as Ethel Le Neve
907.84 MB
English 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 38 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MOscarbradley 6 / 10

A simple, sober and sympathetic movie

Poor "Dr. Crippen". As the character himself says, he's gone down in history as some kind of monster, not that far removed from Jack the Ripper. Robert Lynn's simple, sober film sets out to redress the balance. painting Crippen as more sinned against than sinner. Yes, he killed his wife and dismembered her corpse but did she drive him to it and was the killing itself an accident as he ultimately claims? There is no doubt as to which side Lynn's film is on.

It's an intelligent little picture if, in the end, not a particularly exciting one and it's very well played by Donald Pleasence, (Crippen), Samantha Eggar, (Ethel Le Neve, his uncomprehending mistress) and Coral Browne, (his shrew of a wife). The fine black and white cinematography is by Nicholas Roeg.

Reviewed by Coventry 8 / 10

Their love is like bad medicine ...

Some of cinema's most fascinating & involving court dramas are inspired by notorious historical cases, and Robert Lynn's masterful Indie-production "Dr. Crippen" is definitely no exception. The factual case of Hawley Harvey Crippen was one of the most talked-about events back in 1910, because he was the first person the police ever arrested with the aid of wireless communication techniques (cleverly processed into the film as well) and - moreover - he was executed despite the fact that it was never fully clarified whether he intentionally murdered his wife or that he accidentally gave her an overdose of medicine. Especially since the true circumstances of Belle Crippen's death remain unknown to this date, the film also remains quite vague about it and only suggests a hypothetical situation of what could have happened. Writer Leigh Vance opted for an ingenious and rather unusual narrative structure in which extended scenes at the courthouse are interfered with extended flashbacks about how the accused got there. The first chapter largely focuses on portraying what type of woman Belle Crippen was. She was an arrogant and selfish woman, openly committing adultery and humiliating her docile husband in public ("you're unattractive, but you're my husband so I guess I have to sleep with you"). The second chapter subsequently depicts Dr. Crippen's sincere affection for the young Ethel Le Neve, who works as an employee in his medical cabinet. Despite Belle having many lovers, she threatens to ruin Crippen's career and reputation if he would choose to leave her for Ethel. The second segment ends on the night of Belle's death. The film's first hour is compelling enough and the case's background is of course essential need-to-know information, but the pacing is rather slow and several sequences appear to be a bit tedious. The last half hour, however, is close to brilliant and literally had me on the edge of my chair. Terrified of the possible consequences, Dr. Crippen convinces his sweet but extremely naive mistress to flee to the United States, disguised as father and son. The alert captain recognizes them and uses the newly invented wireless communication system to inform Scotland Yard about Crippen's whereabouts. The finale is absolutely powerful and unforgettable, handling about the verdict in court and the prison days prior to Dr. Crippen's execution. For as far as I read about the Crippen case in reference books and various websites, this film is very accurate and complete. Even the characterizations are truthful, which actually makes you sympathize with the Dr.'s side of the story, as he and Ethel experience true love whereas Belle is an insufferable battle-axe. On the other hand, if it was just an "accident", how could he bring himself to dismembering his wife's corpse and hide it from the police? As you can tell, this film is extraordinary involving and thought-provoking. Donald Pleasance gives away a tour-de-force performance as the titular character, once again reassuring us he was one of the most talented, but sadly underrated, actors who ever lived. The cinematography is very tight and wondrous, which shouldn't come as a big surprise considering the man responsible was Nicolas Roeg. Very much recommended!

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 6 / 10

True crime story enlivened by a good look and fine performances

DR. CRIPPEN is an effective retelling of a true crime story, bolstered by a typically excellent turn from Donald Pleasence in the titular role. Pleasence makes every facet of his flawed lead his own, and in the end you can truly believe that he is Crippen. He also helps to make Crippen a sympathetic character despite the turn of events that occurs.

The format of the film is kept simple and straightforward, with much of the story told in flashback and courtroom drama making up the rest. It feels a little bit staid and ordinary, but Nic Roeg's cinematography at least makes it look good and the cast is decent: Samantha Eggar convinces as the youthful mistress, while Coral Browne is so overbearing that you can't help but sympathise with poor Crippen. A typically fiery Donald Wolfit (BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE) plays the prosecutor with his usual aplomb.

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1 Comment

always4afight profile
always4afight November 04, 2022 at 08:55 pm

I love Samantha Eggar.