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Pierrepoint (2005)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Pentonville Prison, London, 1932. 26-year-old Oldham deliveryman Albert Pierrepoint is trained as a hangman, following after his father and uncle. His mother cannot hide her disgust and tells him never to bring his business home, while his uncle Tom is warmly congratulatory.

He rapidly gains a reputation as the most efficient and conscientious hangman in Britain. By World War II he is married to shop assistant Anne and spends evenings in the pub, where he often sings duets with another man as 'Tish' and 'Tosh'.

At the end of the war, Albert is summoned to London, where Field Marshal Montgomery asks him to go to Germany to preside over the execution of Nazi war criminals. He finally tells Anne about his other job, but finds that she'd known for years.

Though disconcerted by the number of hangings required, Albert rises to the occasion. Returning to Britain, he is alarmed to find that he has become a national celebrity. Anne suggests exploiting this fame by buying a pub.

He continues to perform duets with 'Tish', but his mood has changed: his long-term affair a married woman, has turned sour. Albert discovers how sour when he officiates at the execution of one James Corbett, who turns out to be his old friend. Returning home after laying out the corpse, he breaks down in front of Anne.

After the execution of Ruth Ellis brings more unwelcome publicity, Albert seizes on Anne's discovery of an unpaid fee as an excuse for tendering his resignation.