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The Man They Could Not Hang is a 1939 American horror film, the first of three similarly-plotted titles produced by Columbia Pictures, directed by Nick Grinde, and starring Boris Karloff as Dr. Henryk Savaard.[1] The supporting cast features Lorna Gray and Ann Doran.[2]

The Man They Could Not Hang
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNick Grinde
Produced byWallace MacDonald
Written byKarl Brown
George Wallace Syre
Leslie T. White
StarringBoris Karloff
Lorna Gray
Music byR.H Bassett and others
CinematographyBenjamin H. Kline
Edited byWilliam A. Lyon
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • August 17, 1939 (1939-08-17) (North America)
  • November 1947 (1947-11) (North America rerelease)
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 notesEdit

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.[citation needed]


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 alsoEdit


  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.

External linksEdit