The Greed of William Hart

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.

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


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

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The film was originally made as a fairly direct historical adaptation of the Burke and Hare murders.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



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