MonsterGirl’s 150 Days of Classic Horror #9 Before I Hang (1940) / The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)


This post is part of Monstergirl’s 150 Days of Classic Horror “One photo, one paragraph challenge for long winded me!”



This medical science gone wrong horror thriller directed by Nick Grinde  stars the incomparable Boris Karloff   plays the kindly and sympathetic character of Dr. John Garth a physician seeking a serum that will fend off the aging process. Garth is placed on death row for conducting a mercy killing but permitted to pursue his experiments with his serum on the other inmates’ blood, while secretly testing it on himself. Helping him with his research is his colleague Dr. Ralph Howard (Edward Van Sloan) Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula’s Daughter 1936) They inject Garth with the experimental serum taken from one of the executed murderers, a man who was criminally insane. Though he Garth murders his colleague and a prison trustee, he manages to fool them into giving him a pardon for his work as a humanitarian. Dr. Garth emerges as a Jekyll and Hyde personality becoming a homicidal killer. One of the best early chillers utilizing the very morbid yet enthralling idea that blood has it’s own consciousness. A concept that will be used in films later on down the road acting on the same premise that the human body, blood tissue and bone retain the memory of the criminal whose body they belonged to. Pulsing with a life force unique to that singular identity.

B movie queen Evelyn Keyes plays Garth’s daughter Martha. Don Beddoe is Capt. McGraw and Bruce Bennett (Mildred Pierce 1945 Dark Passage 1947) plays Dr. Paul Ames




Boris Karloff is Dr. Henryk Savaard a scientist working in the field of medicine searching for a means to prolong life. His experiments emplo a mechanical heart to revive his subjects after they’ve been pronounced technically dead. Medical student Bob Roberts (Stanley Brown) volunteers to be the first subject of Dr. Savaard’s experiment. Savaard’s nurse Betty Crawford (Ann Doran Penny Serenade 1941,The Strange Love of Martha Ivers 1946) is frantic about her boyfriend Bob submitting to this and calls the police. They arrest Dr. Savaard for killing his assistant and he goes to trial. Dr. Savaard tries desperately to explain his altruistic intentions to the jury but he is found guilty and sentenced to hang. Savaard has instructed his assistant Lang (Byron Foulger) to bring him back from the dead using his methods with the mechanical heart. Soon after mysteriously, six members of the jury who have convicted Dr. Savaard wind up committing suicide by hanging themselves. The other six jurors, the judge, prosecutor, police inspector and nurse Crawford are invited to Savaard’s house so that he can exact his revenge!

Lorna Gray plays Savaard’s daughter Janet, Charles Trowbridge plays Judge Bowman and Don Beddoe as Police Lt. Shane. One of Karloff’s great sympathetic scientist thrillers with wonderful atmospherics in this other Nick Grinde B movie classic.

Annex - Karloff, Boris (Man They Could Not Hang, The)_NRFPT_03

9 Down just 141 more to go!- MonsterGirl

7 thoughts on “MonsterGirl’s 150 Days of Classic Horror #9 Before I Hang (1940) / The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)

  1. Joey, I’ve never seen BEFORE I HANG, but I do remember seeing THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG when I was a young’un growing up in the Bronx! My older brother sometimes watched “Creature Features” on WNEW Channel 5, if I remember correctly. Of course, I also remember my mom saying, “Don’t scare your little sister!” My brother was a bit of a scalawag; became a doctor, in fact. Make of that what you will! :-) Anyway, Jo, your post was a swell read, as always! Looking forward to more of your 150 Days of Classic Horror, my friend!


    1. Dor! I used to watch Creature Features all the time when I was little. Fond memories of WNEW Channel 5. Stations like that helped make me the MonsterGirl that I am today. I laughed so hard about your mom’s worry about you being scared. Unlike my mom who let me and my brother stay up late to devour as much of these films as we could. I do hope that your scalawag brother didn’t try to create a mechanical heart with catastrophic results Teehee… Glad you like the series. It’s truly a challenge for me to try and keep these brief….xoxox to you and yours my friend-


  2. Boris Karloff had the perfect face for these flicks, didn’t he? Plus, he could make facial expressions that send chills down your spine.

    I’ve never seen either of these. They’re going on My List!


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