Let Him Have It (1991)



Critic Consensus: Led by a gripping performance from Christopher Eccleston, Let Him Have It sounds a compelling call for justice on behalf of its real-life protagonist.

Movie Info

Like his prior film The Krays, the subject of Peter Medak's Let Him Have It is the British system of crime and punishment. Based on a real 1952 case, the film examines the circumstances of a murder committed by Derek Bentley (Christopher Eccleston), a brain-damaged teen, and Chris Craig (Paul Reynolds), a macho 16-year-old; after the naive Derek seemingly goads the impetuous Chris into murdering a policeman, it's up to the courts to decide the guilt of both boys.

Rating: R (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 9, 2010
British Screen


as Chris Craig

as William Bentley

as Fairfax

as Lilian Bentley

as Lord Goddard

as Jack the Warder

as Secondary School Tea...

as Niven's Judge

as Pierrepont

as Cassels

as Terry

as McDonald

as Humphries

as Dennis Bentley

as Small Boy at School

as Schoolboy in Seconda...

as Boy, Fairview Road

as Reprieve Petition Wo...

as West Indian Driver

as Posh TV Lady

as Mr. Craig

as Mrs. Craig

as 9-Year-Old Girl

as Father

as Police Desk Sergeant

as Army Recruit Doctor

as Harry Proctor

as Clerk of the Court

as Jones, the Prison Wa...

as Reporter

as Conservative MP

as Senior Prison Warder

as Derek (age 8)

as Iris (age 10)

as Derek (age 14)

as Prison Chaplain

as Nightwatchman

as Lady at Butcher's

as Police Officer

as Maxwell-Fyfe

as Man in Suit

as Mrs. Miles

as Woman with Petition

as Parris

as Foreman on the Jury

as Owner of the Milk Ba...

as Boy in Nightwatchman...

as Boy in Nightwatchman...
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Critic Reviews for Let Him Have It

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (15)

Courtenay slowly works his way into the center of the movie's sympathies. When he embraces his remaining family at the moment of his son's execution, his sorrow seems boundless.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

As the protagonist/victim, Eccleston gives a superb, riveting performance in his feature-film debut, as does Reynolds, another newcomer who deftly handles the role of the gun-crazy and trigger-happy Chris.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Let Him Have It is unabashedly weighted toward the perspective of the murderer as victim -- a notion that does not enjoy much public currency in our more violent times. But if ever there was a victim of the judicial system, it was Derek Bentley.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

The script, by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, finds enough quirks in its protagonists to lift them above the issues-movie premise. Michael Kamen's atmospheric chamber score is also crucial to the film's success.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A chiaroscuro drama of unstoppable tragedy.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Fairness isn't the issue here, dramatic depth is: You don't have to favor capital punishment to feel yourself being manipulated.

Full Review… | October 28, 2014
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Let Him Have It


Quite a strong movie, based on a true story, highlighting miscarriage of justice.

familiar stranger

Super Reviewer


Well made, dramatic case study of the crime, trial and subsequent execution of Derek Bentley. Director Peter Medak and a very talented cast have put together a powerful argument against capital punishment and a scathing indictment of Britain's jurisprudence.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Watch this film and tell me you still think corporal punishment is a good idea!

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer

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