Timothy Spall is the perfect choice to play Albert Pierrepoint, the British hangman who executed some 450 people from 1932 to 1955—one look at Spall’s lopsided glare and you’d probably jump through the trapdoor unassisted. Produced by Granada Television, this 2005 feature has a drab Masterpiece Theatre feel, though Pierrepoint is a fascinating study in ethics: he takes pride in his work, wants his victims to die swiftly and painlessly, and considers hanging an absolution (when someone disrespects a victim’s body, he sputters, “She’s innocent now!”). The movie grows more compelling in the latter half as British public opinion turns against capital punishment and Pierrepoint begins to have his own doubts, though his retirement, prompted by a monetary disagreement with the Home Office, is anything but heroic. Adrian Shergold directed; with Juliet Stevenson. R, 98 min.