The Man They Could Not Hang

The Man They Could Not Hang is a 1939 American horror film directed by Nick Grinde and starring Boris Karloff as Dr. Henryk Savaard.[1][2]

The Man They Could Not Hang
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNick Grinde
(as Nick Grindé)
Screenplay byKarl Brown
Story byLeslie T. White
Geroge Wallace Syre
StarringBoris Karloff
CinematographyBenjamin H. Kline
(as Benjamin Kline)
Edited byWilliam A. Lyon
(as William Lyon)
Columbia Pictures
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • August 17, 1939 (1939-08-17)
Running time
64 minutes
CountryUnited States


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.


Production notes

The fictional heart and lung machine prop presented an idea that was strictly science fiction 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 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


  1. Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 pp. 246-247
  2. "The Man They Could Not Hang". FilmAffinity. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
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