GenreCrime, Drama, History Music directorMichael Kamen LanguageEnglish
Release date1991 (1991) (UK)
6 December 1991 (1991-12-06) (US) WriterNeal Purvis, Robert Wade Initial releaseOctober 4, 1991 (United Kingdom) CastChristopher Eccleston (Derek Bentley), Paul Reynolds (Christopher Craig), Tom Courtenay (William Bentley), Eileen Atkins (Lilian Bentley), Michael Gough (Lord Goddard), Iain Cuthbertson (Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe) Similar moviesGoodfellas, Bound, Stiletto, The Last Tycoon, A Walk Among the Tombstones, Young and Healthy as a Rose
TaglineThe shocking story of an unbelievable miscarriage of justice.
let him have it 1991 trailer
Let Him Have It is a 1991 British drama film directed by Peter Medak and starring Christopher Eccleston, Paul Reynolds, Tom Courtenay and Tom Bell. The film is based on the true story of Derek Bentley.
The true story of the case ended with Bentley hanged for murder under controversial circumstances on 28 January 1953. While Bentley did not directly play a role in the murder of PC Sidney Miles, he received a greater punishment than the gunman (who was 16).
Derek Bentley (Eccleston) is an illiterate, epileptic young adult with developmental disabilities who falls into a gang led by a younger teenager named Chris Craig (Reynolds). During the course of a robbery in which Bentley is encouraged to participate by Craig, the two become trapped by the police. Officers order Chris to put down his gun. Bentley, who by this time has already been arrested, shouts "let him have it, Chris" – whether he means the phrase literally (let him have the gun) or figuratively (open fire) is unclear. Chris begins firing, killing one officer and wounding another. Because he is a minor, Chris is given a prison sentence for the crime. Meanwhile, Bentley is sentenced to death under the English common law principle of joint enterprise, on the basis that his statement to Chris was an instigation to begin shooting. Bentley's family begin an effort for clemency which reaches Parliament. However, the Home Secretary (who has the power to commute the death sentence) declines to intervene. Despite his family's efforts and some public support, Bentley is executed in 1953 within a month of being convicted, before Parliament takes any official action.
Paul Bergman and Michael Asimow call attention to the cross examination scene, where "the camera closes in on [Bentley's] bruised face as the prosecutor and judge bombard him with questions he can barely comprehend."
The film's end titles state that Bentley's sister, Iris, was still fighting for his pardon. Seven years after the film was made and after numerous unsuccessful campaigns to get Derek Bentley a full pardon, his conviction was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeal on 30 July 1998, one year after Iris's death.
The film gained positive reviews from critics and holds an 81% "Fresh" review from the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes based on 36 reviews.
Tom Wiener said that the film displayed the writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade's "outrage toward a system hell-bent on vengeance" and John Ivan Simon called the script "first rate, no nonsense".