Let Him Have It
|Let Him Have It|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Medak|
|Produced by||Luc Roeg
|Written by||Neal Purvis
|Music by||Michael Kamen|
|Edited by||Ray Lovejoy|
British Screen Productions
|Distributed by||First Independent Films
Fine Line Features
Let Him Have It is a 1991 British film, which was based on the true story of the case against Derek Bentley, who was hanged for murder under controversial circumstances on 28 January 1953. While Bentley did not directly play a role in the murder of PC Sidney Miles, he received the greater punishment than the gunman (who was 16). It stars Christopher Eccleston as Bentley, with Paul Reynolds, Tom Courtenay and Tom Bell, directed by Peter Medak.
The film is based on the true story of Derek Bentley.
Within the film, Bentley (Eccleston) is an illiterate, epileptic young adult with developmental disabilities who falls into a gang led by a younger teenager named Chris Craig (Reynolds). During the course of a robbery in which Bentley is encouraged to participate by Craig, the two become trapped by the police. Officers order Chris to put down his gun. Bentley, who by this time has already been arrested, shouts "let him have it, Chris" – whether he means the phrase literally (let him have the gun) or figuratively (open fire) is unclear. Chris begins firing, killing one officer and wounding another. Because he is a minor, Chris is given a prison sentence for the crime. Meanwhile, Bentley is sentenced to death under the English common law principle of joint enterprise, on the basis that his statement to Chris was an instigation to begin shooting.
Bentley's family begin an effort for clemency which reaches Parliament. However, the Home Secretary (who has the power to commute the death sentence) declines to intervene. Despite his family's efforts and some public support, Bentley is executed in 1953 within a month of being convicted, before Parliament takes any official action.
- Christopher Eccleston as Derek Bentley
- Paul Reynolds Christopher Craig
- Tom Courtenay as William Bentley
- Eileen Atkins as Lilian Bentley
- Clare Holman as Iris Bentley
- Tom Bell as Detective Sergeant Fairfax
- Rebecca Eccleston as Iris aged 10
- Peter Eccleston as Derek Bentley aged 8
- Craig Turner as Derek Bentley aged 14
- P.J. Nicholas as First Boy in Shed
- Bret Walker as Second Boy in Shed
- Walter Sparrow as The Nightwatchman
- Edward Hardwicke as Approved School Principal
- Ben Brazier as Denis Bentley
- Serena Scott Thomas as Stella
- Peter Jonfield as Butcher
- Joan Heal as Lady in Butcher Shop
- Jack Deam as Terry Stringer
- Bert Tyler-Moore as Vincent Montgomery
- Mark McGann as Niven Craig
- Chris Darwin as Owner of Milk Bar
- Murray Melvin as Secondary School Teacher
- Michael Gough as Lord Goddard
- Iain Cuthbertson as Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe
- Peter Eyre as Humphreys
- James Villiers as Cassels
- Clive Revill as Albert Pierrepoint (hangman)
- Vernon Dobtcheff as Court Clerk
- Bill Dean as Foreman of the Jury
- Norman Rossington as Postman
- Michael Elphick as Prison Officer Jack
- Jeremy Sinden as Soames, Daily Telegraph reporter
- Steve Nicolson as Police Constable Harrison
- Niven Boyd as Police Constable McDonald
- Robert Morgan as Police Constable Miles
- James Bowers as Police Officer
- Rudolph Walker as Car Driver/Travelling salesman
- Ronald Fraser as the Judge who sentences Niven Craig to 12 years imprisonment
Paul Bergman and Michael Asimow call attention to the cross examination scene, where "the camera closes in on [Bentley's] bruised face as the prosecutor and judge bombard him with questions he can barely comprehend."
The film's end titles state that Bentley's sister, Iris, was still fighting for his pardon. The BBC reports that seven years after the film was made and after numerous unsuccessful campaigns to get Derek Bentley a full pardon, his conviction was finally overturned by the Court of Appeal on 30 July 1998, one year after Iris's death.
Tom Wiener said that the film displayed the writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade's "outrage toward a system hell-bent on vengeance" and John Ivan Simon called the script "first rate, no nonsense".
- "'Let Him Have It!' - The Case of Bentley and Craig". h2g2. BBC. 17 March 2006. Archived from the original on 2009-04-06. Retrieved 2011-04-03.
- Bergman, Paul; Asimow, Michael (2006-04-01). Reel Justice: The Courtroom Goes to the Movies. Andrews McMeel Publishing. pp. 47–. ISBN 9780740754609. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- 'Craig's relief at Bentley Pardon' BBC, 30 July 1998
- "Let Him Have It". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- Wiener, Tom (1 August 2002). The off-Hollywood film guide: the definitive guide to independent and foreign films on video and DVD. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 369–. ISBN 9780812992076. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
- John Ivan Simon. John Simon On Film: Criticism, 1982-2001. Retrieved 2012-10-24.