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
Produced by Gilbert Church
Written by John Gilling
Starring Tod Slaughter
Henry Oscar
Jenny Lynn
Aubrey Woods
Cinematography D.P. Cooper, S.D. Onions
Edited by John F. House
Distributed by Ambassador Film Productions
Release dates
  • March 1948 (1948-03)
Running time
80 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Greed of William Hart is a 1948 British crime film directed by Oswald Mitchell and starring Tod Slaughter, Henry Oscar, Aubrey Woods, Patrick Addison, Jenny Lynn, 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 goes missing, medical student Hugh Alston (Patrick Addison) suspects the two 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.


  • Tod Slaughter - William Hart
  • Henry Oscar - Mr Moore
  • Jenny Lynn - Helen Moore
  • Winifred Melville - Meg Hart
  • Aubrey Woods - Daft Jamie Wilson
  • Patrick Addison - Hugh Alston
  • Arnold Bell - Dr. Cox
  • Mary Love - Mary Patterson
  • Ann Trego - Janet Brown
  • Edward Malin - David Patterson
  • Hubert Woodward - Innkeeper Swanson
  • Dennis Wyndham - Sergeant Fisher


The film was originally written 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. Some 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.



  • Richards, Jeffrey (ed.) The Unknown 1930s: An Alternative History of the British Cinema, 1929-1939. I.B. Tauris, 1998.

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