For Them That Trespass

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For Them That Trespass
"For Them That Trespass" (1949).jpg
UK theatrical poster
Directed by Alberto Cavalcanti
Written by J. Lee Thompson
Based on For Them That Trespass by Ernest Raymond
Produced by Victor Skutezky
CinematographyDerick Williams
Edited by Margery Saunders
Music by Philip Green
Distributed by Associated British-Pathé (UK)
Release date
21 April 1949 (London UK)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£124,978 (UK) [1]

For Them That Trespass is a 1949 British crime film directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and starring Richard Todd, Patricia Plunkett and Stephen Murray. [2] It is an adaptation of the 1944 novel of the same name by Ernest Raymond. [3]


The film's main theme is miscarriage of justice. In the film, a professional writer witnesses a murder. He decides not to testify on behalf of an innocent man accused of the crime, wishing to protect his own reputation. The innocent man spends 15 years in prison for the murder. Once released, he tries to clear his name.


Promising writer Christopher Drew conceals his relationship with a murdered woman in order to protect his career, even though this results in an innocent man going to prison for the killing.

The upper-class Drew decides he needs some first-hand experience to invigorate his work, so he explores the seedier areas of town in search of inspiration. Much to his dismay, he witnesses a murder, but he then refuses to help an innocent man, Herbert Logan, who has been arrested for the crime, because his presence in such a neighbourhood would cause a scandal. Logan is freed after serving 15 years in jail. He hears his "crime" detailed in a radio drama written by Drew and gathers enough evidence to clear his name. [4]



Richard Todd was cast after a screen test. It was his first leading role. His casting was announced in July 1948. He was also signed to a seven-year contract with Associated British. [5]

The film led to Todd being cast in The Hasty Heart . [6]

Critical reception

The New York Times called it "a drab and dreary little film". [7] On the other hand, Sky Movies calls it a "gripping movie drama which has a lot of high feeling and style. ... Still impressive, though more than 40 years after." [8]

Todd called it "dreary" but it led to him being offered a long-term contract with Associated British. [9]

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  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p489
  2. "BFI | Film & TV Database | FOR THEM THAT TRESPASS (1949)". 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  3. "For Them That Trespass: Ernest Raymond: Books". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  4. "For Them That Trespass Review". Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  5. "Parachutist Jumps Ahead". The Mirror . Western Australia. 3 July 1948. p. 15. Retrieved 26 June 2020 via Trove.
  6. "Richard Todd is newest find for British films". The Australian Women's Weekly . 9 July 1949. p. 38. Retrieved 10 May 2020 via Trove.
  7. Crowther, Bosley (27 September 1950). "Movie Review – For Them That Trespass – THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; British Import, 'For Them That Trespass,' With Richard Todd, at the Little CineMet". NY Times. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  8. "For Them That Trespass – Sky Movies HD". Sky Movies. 1 April 2003. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  9. HOWARD THOMPSON (17 April 1955). "THE RICHARD TODD CALLED 'PETER'". New York Times. p. X5.