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The Greed of William Hart

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Joe Macclesfield
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The Greed of William Hart

Postby Joe Macclesfield » November 17th, 2014, 2:00 am

Tod Slaughter has a bit of a cult following - even in the US (which surprised me when I learned of it, some years ago). The Greed of William Hart (1948) is one of Tod's last films - and one of the best. The story and screenplay, by John Gilling, was later reworked as the much seedier, The Flesh and the Fiends (1960). It's really the story of Burke and Hare, toured through the English provinces by Slaughter for many years prior to this filming. Boasting a beautiful, barnstorming performance by Slaughter as Hart (Hare), and matched by the great Henry Oscar as partner, Moore (Burke). Tod revels in his devilish work. Delivering great lines, such as this - to the wife of his partner, Moore (played by Tod's real wife, Jenny Lynn): "To the devil with you, for a snivelling jellyfish!" And this -to screen wife - Winifred Melville: "Meg! Where are you - you lazy hag? Peel some praties and onions, and get the pots on for a nice hot stew, it's hungry that I am." Born Norman Carter Slaughter, at Gosforth, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1885, Tod's real hobby was growing roses(!)
Last edited by Joe Macclesfield on December 7th, 2014, 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
"...Then as a bee, which among weeds doth fall,
Which seem sweet floures with lustre fresh and gay,
She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all,
But pleasd with none doth rise and sore away..."

Western Guy
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Re: The Greed of William Hart

Postby Western Guy » November 17th, 2014, 2:32 pm

Not terribly familiar with Tod Slaughter's work though he definitely sounds like a performer whose films I should check out, especially THE GREED OF WILLIAM HART.

My all-time favorite horror movie just happens to be THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS (followed closely by THE BODY SNATCHER). The former sticks very close to the facts behind the unholy Knox-Burke-Hare trinity and is about as unsettling a movie as anything produced specifically for the horror genre. And Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance . . . what more need be said?

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Joe Macclesfield
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Re: The Greed of William Hart

Postby Joe Macclesfield » November 17th, 2014, 7:17 pm

The Greed of William Hart (as with other Slaughter pictures) is an acquired taste. To judge from comments on various forums, and customer reviews, many lovers of old movies in the US enjoy his work. It will strike some as stagey or corny, but it's great fun to see Tod go to his ghoulish work for almost the last time. Flesh and the Fiends is an altogether more realistic treatment, really bringing out the sleaziness of the whole business. I believe Donald Pleasence was the original choice for Witchfinder General. When Vincent Price got the part, the director, Michael Reeves, said to him: "I didn't want you, but I've got to have you."(!)
Last edited by Joe Macclesfield on November 17th, 2014, 8:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"...Then as a bee, which among weeds doth fall,
Which seem sweet floures with lustre fresh and gay,
She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all,
But pleasd with none doth rise and sore away..."

Western Guy
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Location: Winnipeg, Canada

Re: The Greed of William Hart

Postby Western Guy » November 17th, 2014, 8:53 pm

Yes Joe, that is true about Price's experiences during the filming of WITCHFINDER GENERAL (aka THE CONQUEROR WORM). Michael Reeves (a tortured soul) made Price's participation in that project a living hell. It's a fave of mine (I own the DVD) but sadly it is the beginning or Price's waning days at AIP.

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Joe Macclesfield
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Re: The Greed of William Hart

Postby Joe Macclesfield » November 17th, 2014, 9:07 pm

The restored version is good (probably the one on your DVD, W.G.). Hopkins comes to what can truly be described as a gruesome end. The last time I watched the film, I looked up the real Hopkins. He died peacefully, in bed.
"...Then as a bee, which among weeds doth fall,
Which seem sweet floures with lustre fresh and gay,
She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all,
But pleasd with none doth rise and sore away..."

Western Guy
Posts: 1702
Joined: March 26th, 2012, 1:19 pm
Location: Winnipeg, Canada

Re: The Greed of William Hart

Postby Western Guy » November 17th, 2014, 9:15 pm

Yes, I know. The irony of Hopkins's butchery is that he expired peacefully with a pillow under his head -- not unlike Al Capone. A great film, though, and probably one of Vinnie's top five genre performances. No tongue-in-cheek in that one.

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Joe Macclesfield
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Re: The Greed of William Hart

Postby Joe Macclesfield » November 18th, 2014, 6:55 am

To which I'll adjoin The Mad Magician (1954). Beautiful period look and feel. The writers knew that some contemporary filmgoers would know that stage makeup, then, consisted largely of greasepaint, and not rubber appliances (and some did). How much more sophisticated modern audiences are! But, back to Tod Slaughter. Maria Marten, or the Murder in the Red Barn (1935). Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936). The Crimes of Stephen Hawke (1936). The Ticket of Leave Man (1937). The Face at the Window (1939). Crimes at the Dark House (1940) - the latter containing the immortal lines - "I'll feed your entrails to the pigs." And: "Your trousers? Curse your trousers!" After the Second World War: The Curse of the Wraydons (1946). Then, the titular feature of this thread. Tod was found dead, of a heart attack, in his digs (lodgings) at Derby (that's "Darby"), on the 11th of Februrary, 1956. The previous night, at the Derby Hippodrome, he'd played Murder in the Red Barn, as it turned out, for the last time. He was seventy-one.
Last edited by Joe Macclesfield on November 22nd, 2014, 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"...Then as a bee, which among weeds doth fall,
Which seem sweet floures with lustre fresh and gay,
She lights on that, and this, and tasteth all,
But pleasd with none doth rise and sore away..."

Western Guy
Posts: 1702
Joined: March 26th, 2012, 1:19 pm
Location: Winnipeg, Canada

Re: The Greed of William Hart

Postby Western Guy » November 18th, 2014, 10:48 am

Yeah, THE MAD MAGICIAN certainly has those qualities, Joe. But it seems to be an overlooked Price film, especially when considering that it came so soon after HOUSE OF WAX. But it's a fine film that I enjoy and Price certainly does gain a measure of sympathy in his characterization (ditto HoW).

I did see a Tod Slaughter film on PBS many years ago, but can't recall which. I do remember enjoying it - and Slaughter's bombastic villainy.

With dialogue such as you've quoted, Tod Slaughter definitely deserves a rediscovery.


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