When his friend Professor Kingsley is at deaths door, brain surgeon Dr. Sovac saves his life by means of an illegal operation that transplants part of injured gangster Red Cannon's brain. Unfortunately, the operation has a disastrous Jeckll and Hyde side effect and under certain conditions the persona of Cannon emerges. Sovac soon learns of the duel personality and of half a million dollars the gangster has hidden away. He attempts to find the money through the manipulation of his friend, an attempt that brings Kingsley closer to madness as he alternates between a meek professor of English and a brutal gangster out for murderous revenge on those who tried to kill him. Written by
Carlos Valverde <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Black Friday" was sold as another (the fifth of seven) in the Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi co-starring vehicles however, because of a late casting change which reduced Lugosi's role substantially, the two do not appear on screen together.
The film opens with Dr. Ernst Sovac (Karloff) being led off to his execution. Before he goes he gives his notebook to a reporter which forms the basis for a flashback.
Professor George Kingsley (Stanley Ridges) is injured as the result of an automobile accident resulting from a gun battle between gangsters Red Cannon and Marnay (Lugosi. Cannon is also injured and he and the professor are taken to the same hospital. In order to save his friend, Dr. Sovac transplants part of Cannon's brain into Kingsley, resulting in Cannon's death.
When Kingsley begins to exhibit some of the gangster's traits, Sovac sees this as an opportunity to acquire Cannon's hidden loot of $500,000 for his own purposes. Gradually Kingsley takes on Cannon's personality. Sovac takes him to New York and places him in Cannon's environment. Kingsley/Cannon then begins to exact his revenge upon his former gang which includes Marney, Miller (Edmund MacDonald), Kane (Paul Fix) and Devore (Raymond Bailey). Sovac also takes him to a nightclub where Cannon's girlfriend Sunny Rogers (Anne Nagel) performs.
When Kingsley/Cannon recovers the loot he plans to run off with Sunny, however she has arranged with Marnay to double cross him. When Kingsley/Cannon finds out...........and Sovac is forced to............
Bela Lugosi was originally cast in the part of Kingsley/Cannon but the producers chose instead to bring in the lesser known Stanley Ridges and scrap all of Lugosi's footage. Lugosi was given the smaller role of Marney which resulted in he and Karloff not sharing any scenes together. As it turned out Ridges walked away with the picture in an outstanding performance as the man with the split personality. Karloff gave his usual excellent performance as the scheming doctor.
Others in the cast include Anne Gwynne as Karloff's daughter and Virginia Brisac as Ridges long suffering wife. Also, watch for 30s serial favorite Jack Mulhall as a bartender,
This was the final teaming of Karloff and Lugosi for UNiversal. The pair would appear together in "The Body Snatchers" (1945) for RKO and Val Lewton.
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