Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936 film)
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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a 1936 British drama horror film produced and directed by George King, and written by Frederick Hayward, H.F. Maltby, and George Dibdin-Pitt. The film features actor Tod Slaughter in one of his most famous roles as the barber Sweeney Todd.
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
British release poster
|Directed by||George King|
|Produced by||George King|
|Music by||Eric Ansell|
|Edited by||John Seabourne|
|Distributed by||George King Productions|
The film starts in 1936 as a barber tells a patron the story of the infamous Sweeney Todd.
Sweeney Todd (Tod Slaughter) is a barber with a shop near the docks of London. One day, as the mercantile ship The Golden Hope readies to leave, Todd watches Johanna Oakley (Eve Lister) and Mark Ingerstreet (Bruce Seton). They are in love, but Mark is shipping out and laments he's a poor man unable to win the approval of Johanna's father, Governor Oakley (D. J. Williams). Nearby, Johanna's servant Nan (Davina Craig) asks Mark's fellow sailor Pearley (Jerry Verno) to buy her various luxury goods while he's away. Pearley points out he hasn't the money to buy them. Simultaneously, Todd watches all his potential customers and thinks of the money he can make.
Back at the barbershop, Todd has been sent a new apprentice: the orphan Tobias Ragg (John Singer). Next door is a meat pie shop run my Mrs. Lovatt (Stella Rho). She has a large cellar that connects to Todd's. In addition to being a barber, Todd buys a share of Oakley's shipping company and hopes to marry Johanna.
Using his charm, Todd lures wealthy, respectable customers from the docks into his barbershop at Fleet Street, where he sits them in a "special" barber's chair. Before shaving a man, he always sends Tobias to Mrs. Lovatt's for a meat pie. When Todd pulls a lever, the chair flips over and dumps the unsuspecting victim head-first into the basement. Mrs. Lovatt then disposes of the bodies for a share of the stolen money. She is, however, increasingly annoyed with Todd for robbing the bodies preemptively and taking more than his share of the money.
The Golden Hope returns to London, with Mark a newly wealthy man. Todd lures him into his barbershop. Mark foolishly talks about his love for Johanna and shows off his new riches. Todd sends Mark down the chute but Mrs. Lovatt quickly hides him in a cupboard. When Todd comes down, he is surprised to see that the body is gone. However, he isn't worried because he already took Mark's fortune and is sure that young man is poor once again and won't be allowed to marry Johanna. Mrs. Lovatt secretly helps Mark escape.
Vowing to bring Todd to justice, a disguised Mark returns to the barbershop. He sends Tobias to tell Johanna where he is. Todd fails to recognized Mark and while he gets ready to shave his new customer, Pearley sneaks into Mrs. Lovatt's cellar. Todd pulls the lever, but Mark expects the chair to flip and holds on tight. Pearley helps him down safely and they leave the same way Mark originally escaped.
Todd is angry to find another victim missing and accuses Mrs. Lovatt of letting him escape. She admits to having let Mark go before.
Todd readies himself to go on the run. He puts together his collection of stolen goods and begins stacking up hay and wooden furniture in the basement. Johanna comes to his door, worried that Mark has been captured and harmed. Todd knocks her unconscious, puts her in a closet, sets the building on fire and then leaves.
Nan informs Mark and Pearley that Johanna went to Todd's shop. They hurry to save her.
As the barbershop burns down and a crowd gathers around, Todd watches from a nearby alleyway. When Mark go inside to save Johanna, Todd follows and attempts to slash his throat. Mark manages to knock Todd unconscious and gets out with Johanna. On the street Johanna and Mark kiss. Beside them lies Todd's bag of riches in the alleyway.
Todd regains consciousness. As he attempts to escape, his special chair flips him into the fiery cellar.
Returning to 1936, the barber's terrified patron runs out of the shop while still wearing his a full face of shaving cream.
- Tod Slaughter as Sweeney Todd
- Stella Rho as Mrs. Lovatt
- John Singer as Tobias Ragg
- Eve Lister as Johanna Oakley
- Bruce Seton as Mark Ingerstreet
- D. J. Williams as Stephen Oakley
- Davina Craig as Nan
- Jerry Verno as Pearley
- Graham Soutten (credited as Ben Souten) as Beadle
- Billy Holland as Mr. Parsons
- Norman Pierce as Mr. Findlay
- Aubrey Mallalieu as Trader Paterson
- Henry B. Longhurst as a man on the quayside who talks to Sweeney Todd (uncredited)
- Ben Williams as Captain Stephenson (uncredited)
- "Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (A)". British Board of Film Classification. 14 February 1936. Retrieved 8 October 2016.