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Life Returns (1935)

 |  Drama  |  2 January 1935 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.3/10 from 101 users  
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A doctor who has spent his career working on ways to revive the dead sees his chance to prove his theory by performing his procedures on a recently deceased dog.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Onslow Stevens ...
George P. Breakston ...
Danny Kendrick (as George Breakston)
Stanley Fields ...
Dog Catcher
Dr. James
Richard Carle ...
A.K. Arnold
Dean Benton ...
Richard Quine ...
Maidel Turner ...
Mrs. Vandergriff
George MacQuarrie ...
Otis Harlan ...
Dr. Henderson
Robert E. Cornish ...
Mario Margutti ...
Cornish's Assistant


Idealistic doctoral graduates Bob (Dr. Robert E. Cornish), Louise and John plan their futures in pursuit of a formula to restore life to the dead. Bob and Louise wish to remain independent and pursue medical research free of corporate ties. John tries in vain to convince them that by joining him to work at Arnold Research Laboratories they could achieve more research in a year than they could in five as an independent research team. John leaves his friends for corporate pharmacology only to find the pace of his research is not progressing fast enough nor seems practical enough to suit Mr. Arnold. The final blow comes when he is told to turn his attention to creating a treated pig bristle brush to restore hair and prop up his bosses investments in pig processing. Disillusioned Dr. John Kendrick faces public ridicule as he promotes his theory to his peers and falls into a deep depression that costs him his private medical practice. Five years later the sudden passing of his wife, drives... Written by G. E. Sutton

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The mystery of the man who conquered death!







Release Date:

2 January 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'incredibile realtà  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

| (RCA Victor High Fidelity Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The story opens with a signed affidavit as follows:

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: The actual experiment of bringing the dead back to life, which is part of the motion picture "Life Returns" was performed by myself and staff on May 22, 1934 at 11:45 P.M. in Berkeley, California. This part of the picture was originally taken to retain a permanent scientific record of our experiment. Everything shown is absolutely real. The animal was unquestionably and actually dead, and was brought back to life. May I offer my thanks to my assistants, Mario Margutti, William Black, Ralph Celmer and Roderic Kneder, who are shown carrying out their respective parts. Respectfully submitted, Dr. Robert E. Cornish. See more »


A.K. Arnold: We feel it's time to become practical.
Dr. John Kendrick: Practical? Nothing more practical has been thought of since the beginning of time - to bring the dead back to life. And you tell me I'm not practical.
A.K. Arnold: Well, maybe so. Maybe so. But we want this foundation to help the living to live better. To give them better facial creams, better nail polish, better dandruff cures - all for a nominal sum.
See more »

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User Reviews

The Lazarus Effect
30 December 2004 | by (Brooklyn NY USA) – See all my reviews

Not to be taken at face value, a cheap exploitation flick,"Life Returns" is a truly penetrating movie that has to do with bringing the dead back to life.

You cease to laugh at the movie before the opening credits when we see a statement by Robert E. Cornish. Telling the audience that what we are about to see in the movie regarding the operation of the dog who was brought back to life. What were told is not only real but the footage of the operation is that of the actual operation preformed by Dr. Cornish and his staff at the Berkeley Medical Facility in Calif. on March 22, 1934; now how's that for realism.

The story leading up to the actual amazing life saving, or life restoring, operation is obviously fiction. It's about a man who's obsessed with bringing back the dead who can't get the financial support. That he needs to develop a serum that would cause the blood of dead people or animals to start circulating and thus bring that back to life.

Working together with Dr. Cornish and Dr. Stone,Lois Wilson, on this theory Dr. Kendrick, Onslow Stevens, is frustrated by the lack of interest in his idea by big business. As well as the medical profession who look at him as being cracked and out of his mind. Going it alone with both Both Dr. Cornish & Stone giving up the idea, due to lack of funds. Dr. Kendricks loses his practice his wife, who passed away, and is in danger of having his young son Danny, George P. Breakstone, to be taken away from him by the state and put into the local Juvenile Hall because he can't provide for him. Danny runs away from home with his pet dog Scooter, to prevent the authorities from taking him away from his father. And goes and hides in a clubhouse that his friends, the neighbor kids, let him live in.

One afternoon Scooter is caught by the dog-catcher and is later put to sleep because Danny couldn't come up with the $3.00 that he needed to get Scooter free. As his dad was too out of it and broke to do anything to save the poor animals life. Dr. Kendrick finally comes to his senses when Danny loses all respect for him for doing nothing to save Scooter. Dr. Kendrick then gets in touch with his old friend Dr. Cornish who later preforms the operation. Dr. Cornish together with the help of Dr. Kendrick's serum miraculously brings Scooter back to life, to the tears of joy of Danny. And with the resurrection of Scooter the restoration of Dr. Kendrick's reputation as a far-seeing and inventive man of medicine.

The operation that brought Scooter back to life was something straight out of the bible! And as unbelievable as it was it was the one thing in the movie "Life Returns" that was fact and not fiction!

6 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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