THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG (1939)
Article #865 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-28-2003
Posting Date: 12-25-2003
Directed by Nick Grinde
Featuring Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox
A scientist who is experimenting with an artificial heart is arrested by the police when he kills a student in order to bring him back to life with the heart. He swears revenge on the judge and jury who condemn him to be executed.
Title check: Actually, the title is not true; though he does come back to life, they certainly were able to hang him. Still, the title has a nicer ring to it than THE MAN WHO WOULDN’T STAY DEAD.
This was the first of the Columbia Mad Doctor movies Boris Karloff made for the studio. It’s pretty standard, starting out as fairly ordinary mad scientist fare and then turning into a sort of ‘old dark house’ variant where people trapped in a room are picked off one by one. Nevertheless, it’s not bad; Karloff gives a strong performance, and there are several touches here and there (particularly near the end) that I quite like, especially a moment where Karloff’s daughter gambles on her father’s affection for her in a bid to save the trapped people. Though I don’t think the story is as interesting as the one in THE DEVIL COMMANDS, I did find it somewhat more compelling than BEFORE I HANG.