February 24, 2017


Let Him Have It – 1991 | 115 mins | Drama | Colour


Plot Synopsis

Let Him Have It

Powerful social drama based on the true story of retarded teenager Derek Bentley, who in 1953 was hanged for allegedly urging his youthful cohort to shoot a policeman. Director Peter Medakís careful reconstruction reveals why this miscarriage of justice shocked a nation; Bentley received a posthumous pardon in 1998 by the former Home Secretary Jack Straw. The title is based on the phrase Bentley is alleged to have uttered.

Christopher Eccleston gives a soulfully accomplished debut performance, Paul Reynolds is faultless as the playful troublemaker with a sardonic grin and Tom Courtenay provides a moving portrayal of a loving father. The film was originally to be directed by Alex Cox but when he insisted on shooting in black-and-white, the producers brought in Peter Medak, who had previously directed crime biopic The Krays (1990).

Set in an austere, class- ridden 1950s Britain. Two South London youths caught during the bungled breaking-in of a Croydon warehouse are cornered on the rooftop by the police, Chris Craig (Paul Reynolds) is armed with a gun, and when Derek Bentley (Christopher Eccleston) purportedly yelled out “Let him have it, Chris”, Craig wounded one policeman and subsequently killed another. At the ensuing Old Bailey trial 19-year-old Bentley, an epileptic with the mental age of 11, receives a highly contentious mandatory death sentence after an apparent misunderstanding with his underage partner in crime. Did the boy understand “Let him have it” to mean he should surrender the gun or to shoot the police officer? The hapless Bentley didn’t fire the fatal shot but he was later hanged at Wandsworth Prison for the crime.

Production Team

Peter Medak: Director
Henry Harris: Art Direction
Oliver Stapleton: Cinematography
Pam Tait: Costume Design
Ray Lovejoy: Editing
Fae Hammond: Makeup Department
Steff Roeg: Makeup Department
Lesley Altringham: Makeup Department
Michael Kamen: Original Music
Ed Shearmur: Original Music
Luc Roeg: Producer
Robert Warr: Producer
Michael Pickwoad: Production Design
Neal Purvis: Script
Robert Wade: Script
Peter Best: Sound Department
Rene Borisewitz: Sound Department
Richard Edwards: Sound Department
Stephen McLaughlin: Sound Department


Tom Courtenay: William Bentley
Eileen Atkins: Lilian Bentley
Rebecca Eccleston: Iris aged 10
Peter Eccleston: Derek aged 8
Craig Turner: Derek aged 14
PJ Nicholas: First Boy in Shed
Bret Walker: Second Boy in Shed
Walter Sparrow: Nightwatchman
Christopher Eccleston: Derek Bentley
Edward Hardwicke: Approved School Principal
Clare Holman: Iris Bentley
Ben Brazier: Denis Bentley
Paul Reynolds: Chris Craig
Serena Scott Thomas: Stella

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