The Man They Could Not Hang

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This article is about the 1939 horror film. For the British man known as "The Man They Could Not Hang", see John Babbacombe Lee.
The Man They Could Not Hang
Poster for the film "The Man They Could Not Hang"
Directed by Nick Grinde
Produced by Wallace MacDonald
Written by Karl Brown
George Wallace Syre
Leslie T. White
Starring Boris Karloff
Lorna Gray
Cinematography Benjamin H. Kline
Edited by William A. Lyon
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
North America August 17, 1939
North America November 1947 (rerelease)
Running time
64 min
Language English

The Man They Could Not Hang is a (1939) low-budget horror film produced by Columbia Pictures, directed by Nick Grinde, and starring Boris Karloff as Dr. Henryk Savaard.[1] The supporting cast features Lorna Gray and Ann Doran.


Dr. Savaard is obsessed with bringing the dead back to life. A young medical student offers his services to him, but before he can bring him back to life, Savaard is arrested, convicted, and sentenced to hang. He vows revenge on the judge and the jury before his hanging. His assistant claims his body and revives him by using his technique. The vengeful Savaard goes on a killing spree.

Other references[edit]

"The Man They Could Not Hang" was also the title given to the convicted murderer John "Babbacombe" Lee. After three failed attempts to hang him, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

The fictional heart & lung machine prop presented an idea that was strictly sci-fi at the time, but later the central idea became reality as "Open Heart Surgery," later renamed "On-Pump" surgery due to the development of microsurgery that does not require stopping the heart; "On Pump" requires heart stoppage, then hook up to the pump, then operate on the repairs, then re-connect and revive the patient, exactly as presented in the basic theory presented by the film.



The film has been released on VHS by Sony Pictures. It is also included in the "Icons of Horror - Boris Karloff" DVD, released in 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 246-247

External links[edit]