Let Him Have It is a 1991 British film, which was based on the true story of the case against Derek Bentley, who was 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 the greater punishment than the gunman (who was 16). It stars Christopher Eccleston as Bentley, with Paul Reynolds, Tom Courtenay and Tom Bell, directed by Peter Medak.
The film is based on the true story of Derek Bentley.
Within the film, Bentley (Eccleston) is an illiterate young adult with developmental disabilities who falls into a gang led by a younger teenager named Chris Craig (Reynolds). The two become trapped by the police, who tell Chris to put down his gun. Bentley says, "Let him have it, Chris." Chris begins firing, killing one officer and wounding another. Because he is a minor (under 18), Chris is given a minor sentence, but Bentley, although he did not shoot anyone, is sentenced to death, on the basis that his statement to Chris was an instigation to begin shooting.
Bentley's family begin an effort for clemency that reaches Parliament, which Bentley finds out about when a jailer reads the stories to him from a newspaper. 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. The BBC reports that seven years after the film was made and after numerous unsuccessful campaigns to get Derek Bentley a full pardon, his conviction was finally 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".
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