The Greed of William Hart

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The Greed of William Hart
The Greed Of William Hart Theatrical Poster.jpg
Theatrical Poster
Directed by Oswald Mitchell
Written by John Gilling
Produced byGilbert Church
Starring Tod Slaughter
Henry Oscar
Jenny Lynn
Aubrey Woods
Cinematography D.P. Cooper
S.D. Onions
Edited by John F. House
Distributed byAmbassador Film Productions
Release date
  • March 1948 (1948-03)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Greed of William Hart is a 1948 British horror film directed by Oswald Mitchell and starring Tod Slaughter, Henry Oscar, Aubrey Woods, Patrick Addison, Jenny Lynn (star Tod Slaughter's real life wife), Winifred Melville and Arnold Bell. [1] The film depicts two Edinburgh bodysnatchers closely modeled on the real Burke and Hare.



In 1828 Edinburgh, Scotland, two Irish immigrants, Mr. Hart (Tod Slaughter) and Mr. Moore (Henry Oscar), take up murdering the locals and selling their bodies to the local medical school, which needs fresh bodies for anatomy lectures and demonstrations. When a young woman, Mary Patterson, goes missing, recently qualified medic Hugh Alston (Patrick Addison), just returned from his first voyage as a ship's doctor, is alerted by Daft Jamie and Janet that Mary has been taken by a man to Gibb's Close. Jamie says the resurrectionists live there.

Alston suspects the Hart and Moore are involved in foul play, but the arrogant, amoral Dr. Cox (Arnold Bell) – the main buyer for the bodies – attempts to hinder his investigation. Meanwhile, the murderous duo set their sights on eccentric local boy "Daft Jamie" (Aubrey Woods) and an old woman.


NB: Although playing Henry Oscar's character's wife in this film, in real life Jenny Lynn was married to Tod Slaughter.


The film was originally made as a fairly direct historical adaptation of the Burke and Hare murders. The British Board of Film Censors, however, insisted that all references to the real-life murderers be removed. The film was then re-titled and re-dubbed with different character names, substituting "Hart" and "Moore" for Hare and Burke, respectively, and "Dr. Cox" for Dr. Knox. All other names, including victims Mary Patterson, Mrs. Docherty, and "Daft Jamie" Wilson, remain unchanged. [2]

Writer John Gilling would go on to script another version of the same story in 1960, titled The Flesh and the Fiends . This version used the correct names for the killers.

The film was made at Bushey Studios.


The film was distributed in the United States by J.H. Hoffberg Productions in 1953, slightly edited, as Horror Maniacs.

See also

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  1. The Greed of William Hart at the British Film Institute
  2. Cavett Binion, Rovi (2016). "The Greed of William Hart (1948): Review Summary". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . New York City: Baseline & All Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 28 April 2015.