The Last Man Hanged: 'God bless you. Please make it quick'

The Last Man Hanged: 'God bless you. Please make it quick'
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In a dramatic re-creation Ronald Ryan (played by Colin Friels) is hanged in Pentridge prison. Radio journalist Brian Morley recalls being a witness to the hanging. In the re-creation, the priest (played by John Clayton) gives Ryan’s body the last rites.

Summary by Damien Parer

Because there is no visual record of the actual hanging the filmmakers have chosen to dramatise it to great effect. The clip includes a moving interview with the journalist who was a witness to the hanging. After 26 years Mr Morley breaks down as he recalls the brutality of the execution.


Last Man Hanged synopsis

The dramatised documentary traces the events leading up to the hanging of Ronald Ryan in 1967. Ryan escaped from Pentridge prison and a warder was shot dead in the break-out. Ryan was found guilty of the warder’s death and was sentenced to be hanged, as prescribed by Victorian Law. Ryan was the last man hanged in Australia, amidst much public outcry.

The documentary features some of Australia’s best-known actors playing the roles of the principals involved, interwoven with interviews with the real-life people involved. Still photographs from the time are also shown.


Curator's notes

The dramatised story is effectively intercut with documentary interviews with the real life people involved. The writer and director Lewis Fitz-Gerald provides the narration and plays Keith Willey, a newspaper reporter. His acting career has included roles in Out There, Blue Heelers, Farscape, Pitch Black And Stingers.

Notes by Damien Parer


Production company:
Bill Bennett
Director and writer:
Lewis Fitz-Gerald