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Let Him Have It (1992)

Tom Courtenay , Christopher Eccleston , Peter Medak  |  R |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Let Him Have It
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Product Details

  • Actors: Tom Courtenay, Christopher Eccleston, Eileen Atkins, Rebecca Eccleston, Peter Eccleston
  • Directors: Peter Medak
  • Writers: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
  • Producers: Jane Frazer, Jeremy Thomas, Luc Roeg, Robert Warr
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 13, 2005
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BC8T00
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,915 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Let Him Have It" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The shocking true story that rocked England comes to the screen in this searing drama about crime and a travesty of justice. In the 1950s, mentally challenged Derek Bentley becomes friends with dangerous, gun-toting Chris Craig, who idolizes gangster films and dreams of rising in the crime world. However, one violent night will change their destinies forever and lead them to a courtroom where the entire future of the country is about to be changed. Starring Christopher Eccleston (28 Days Later, The Others, TV's Doctor Who, Gone in Sixty Seconds) in his first lead role Featuring Tom Courtenay> (Doctor Zhivago, Billy Liar), Eileen Atkins (Cold Mountain, Gosford Park), Paul Reynolds (Croupier, The Beastmaster), Michael Gough (Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Batman) From acclaimed director Peter Medak (The Ruling Class, Romeo Is Bleeding, The Changeling) SPECIAL FEATURES: Brand New Digital Anamorphic Transfer - New Audio Commentary with Director Peter Medak - Theatrical Trailer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THEY LET HIM HAVE IT... June 15, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
This film, based upon a true story, illustrates the misapplication of the death penalty. In 1953 England, a slow witted young man, Derek Bentley, was executed, hanged for his alleged part in the killing of a police officer. It was a case which received much notoriety at the time.

Derek Bentley (Chris Eccleston) was a learning disabled, young man who was easily led. His sister, Iris (Clare Holman), however, treated him like a regular guy, and he thrived under her watchful eye. His steadfast, working class parents, William and Lilian Bentley (Tom Courtenay and Eileen Atkins), did everything they could to ensure that their son would stay on the straight and narrow. Still, boys will be boys, and one night, Derek, wanting to be one of the boys, simply hooked up with the wrong crowd who was up to no good. Although Derek was unarmed, another of the other boys was not, and when an inevitable clash with the police came about, a police officer was shot. Derek's by now famous words, "Let him have it", were the catalyst for his trial, conviction, and execution.

Notwithstanding Derek's learning disability, the ambiguity of the statement attributed to him, and his tangential involvement during the shootout with the police, Derek was given the death penalty. The draconian sentence was a heartbreaking blow to Derek and his family, as it was always Derek's position that he meant for the shooter to let the police have the gun. Nearly forty five years later, after persistent efforts by his beloved sister, Iris, Derek was finally exonerated by the very courts that had earlier found him guilty. In reality, it was too little, too late, for Derek.

Chris Eccleston gives a bravura performance as the slow witted Derek, compelling and moving.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
If Peter Medak's career since this film had fulfilled his promise in this one, he'd be one of the industry's leading directors. That Chris Eccleston, who has assembled an impressive body of work since his debut in this film, is still virtually unknown is nothing short of a crime.
This film is a must-see for anyone who believes that the death penalty is always meted out fairly. It dramatizes the 1953 U.K. execution by hanging of Derek Bentley, a learning-disabled young man involved peripherally in the shooting of a police officer.
"Let him have it, Chris!" Bentley uttered just before his young accomplice let the shots fly. Did he mean for him to shoot, or drop the gun? 43 years after Bentley's execution, in July 1998, the British courts finally agreed that he meant the latter.
The film is a smashing debut for Chris Eccleston, who imbues young Bentley with pathos without resorting to mannerisms or acting tricks. If you accidentally stumbled upon JUDE because you wanted to see Kate Winslet, check her equally-talented co-star out in this film.
Eccleston is backed up by equally poignant, yet muted supporting performances by Tom Courtenay (nice to see him in a film again) as Derek's father, and by Eileen Atkins as his mother, as well as Clare Holman as his understanding sister Iris, who tries valiantly to help her brother survive in the mainstream.
The knowledge that Iris Bentley died merely months before her brother was exonerated makes this film even more heartbreaking.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magnificent Achievement!!! December 1, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I won't bother telling the plot of this film since so many other reviewers have outlined it in great detail. I will only say there is no greater cinematic indictment of the death penalty than this devastating film. What gives it special significance, of course, is that it is based on a true case - a case that eventually led to abolition of capital punishment in Great Britain. I shutter to think of the number of innocent people executed in countries (including the so-called "civilized" United States) practicing capital punishment in order to satisfy the public's hasty and often misguided need for revenge. LET HIM HAVE IT will have a profound impact on anyone who sees it, regardless of his/her stand on the death penalty.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this film only once, some years back, and it stays with me still. I know the same is true for others who have seen it, too.
"Let Him Have It" is a riveting drama, whose sympathetic (and well-portrayed) characters draw you in (and along, on their emotionally tumultuous ride, based largely on a true story). The movie is not an easy one to watch precisely because it is so well-made. The growing sense of imminent doom contrasted with the deep humanity and helplessness of the protagonist and his family make watching it a visceral experience, whose intensity I don't think has been matched by any other film I have seen. The dramatically climactic scene (I will not give it away here) and all of its particulars, will stay with you a long, long time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "They said I was sub normal." October 3, 2009
"Let Him Have It" tells the real-life story of 1950s British teen, Derek Bentley (Christopher Eccleston). As a child during WWII, Derek's home was bombed, and he sustained a head injury which left him with low intelligence and poor decision-making skills. He ends up falling in with a bad crowd, who take advantage of Derek's desire to fit in and his naivety. He's sent to an "approved school" (reform school) for years, and after his release Derek's family does everything they can to keep him out of trouble. However, a group of teens, lead by Christopher Craig, soon persuades Derek to join in their robberies. Derek tries to break free of their influence, but the situation leads to tragedy.

The film does a nice job telling Derek's story in a sympathetic way and adroitly combines the crime elements and court trial to tell a cohesive story. The movie raises interesting questions concerning how we hold people accountable based on issues of age and intelligence. Although its somewhat low-key story-telling style could have been pumped up a tad, the movie avoids unnecessary melodrama, which adds gravity to the finale. The acting is uniformly fine, with many of the supporting roles taken up by top-notch actors, including Tom Courtenay, Eileen Atkins, and Tom Bell. What really makes the film worth-while, though, is its superb look. As he did with "The Krays" a year previously, director Peter Medak beautifully recreates the look and feel of London crime in the 1950s and 1960s. It really helps place this thought-provoking story in context.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Justice denied
Based on a true story, this is a horrific tale of justice mishandled in Britain. Although filmmakers have a case to make, they stay true to the basic facts and approach the subject... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ramsey Campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Like A British Crime Drama
I'm a big fan of British crime dramas. Having seen many from the 1940s on, this film is good and interesting.
Published 5 months ago by Lizanne
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Watching....Again and Again
A friend once explained the difference, in her opinion, between a "movie" and a "film." A movie, she said, is something seen for entertainment, to while away a few pleasant hours,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Louisa M
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
This movie was very good on many levels. The acting was exceptional across the board. The direction was just as good. The writing was the same. Read more
Published 9 months ago by hugh parker
4.0 out of 5 stars The executioner's face is always well hidden
As powerless a feeling one knows is to watch someone die, the 1991 film LET HIM HAVE IT reminds us in its telling of the 1950s true story of Derek Bentley, a 19-year old British... Read more
Published 17 months ago by J. L LaRegina
5.0 out of 5 stars Let Them Watch It
Excellent film about a true and very controversial case in Britain. Great acting and a concise script make this well-directed film a hidden gem for many American film goers. Read more
Published 19 months ago by John Bellington
5.0 out of 5 stars Any Doubts About Capital Punishment?
If you've had any doubts at all about capital punishment then this film is the one to watch. A true story that is brilliantly portrayed and filmed. Something to think about!
Published 23 months ago by Kerin J. Freeman
5.0 out of 5 stars I was so disappointed
I know this film well, and think it is brilliant, and was so pleased to find a copy to buy on Amazon. Read more
Published on December 16, 2010 by Sarah
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-made but one-dimensional
After watching 'Let Him Have It' for the first time based upon overwhelmingly positive reviews on this site and elsewhere, I had the less-than-fulfilling feeling that I've seen... Read more
Published on July 23, 2010 by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars Craig and Bentley.
I am old enough to remember the case. A miscarriage of justice if ever there was one. The DVD is brilliant. Well worth buying. Enjoy.
Published on May 10, 2008 by Alan Preen
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