IMDb > Black Friday (1940)
Black Friday
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Black Friday (1940) More at IMDbPro »

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Curt Siodmak (screenplay) &
Eric Taylor (screenplay)
View company contact information for Black Friday on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 April 1940 (USA) See more »
A Reign Of HORROR... a man-made monster on the loose!
Dr. Sovac transplants the brain of a gangster into his professor friend's body to save his life, but there is a side effect that causes a dangerous split personality. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 win See more »
User Reviews:
The Man With Two Brains See more (40 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Boris Karloff ... Dr. Ernest Sovac

Bela Lugosi ... Eric Marnay
Stanley Ridges ... Prof. George Kingsley / Red Cannon
Anne Nagel ... Sunny Rogers
Anne Gwynne ... Jean Sovac
Virginia Brissac ... Mrs. Margaret Kingsley
Edmund MacDonald ... Frank Miller

Paul Fix ... William Kane
Murray Alper ... Bellhop

Jack Mulhall ... Bartender
Joe King ... Chief of Police
John Kelly ... Taxi Driver
Robert Morgan ... Hotel Associate
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jessie Arnold ... Nurse (uncredited)

Raymond Bailey ... Louis Devore (uncredited)
Elfriede Borodin ... 2nd Nurse (uncredited)
Tommy Conlon ... Student (uncredited)
Franco Corsaro ... Club Maitre d' (uncredited)
James Craig ... Reporter Ernst Gives Notes To (uncredited)
Kernan Cripps ... Detective (uncredited)
Eddie Dunn ... Det. Farnow (uncredited)
Edward Earle ... Detective (uncredited)
Harry Hayden ... Prison Doctor (uncredited)
Frank Jaquet ... Fat Man in Bar (uncredited)
Ellen Lowe ... Midtown Hotel Maid (uncredited)
Jerry Marlowe ... Midtown Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
David Oliver ... Cabbie (uncredited)
Wallace Reid Jr. ... Student (uncredited)
William Ruhl ... G-Man (uncredited)
Frank Sheridan ... Prison Chaplain (uncredited)
Edwin Stanley ... Dr. Warner (uncredited)
Harry Tenbrook ... Cabbie (uncredited)
Emmett Vogan ... Det. Carpenter (uncredited)
Russell Wade ... Student (uncredited)
Dave Willock ... Student (uncredited)
Victor Zimmerman ... G-Man (uncredited)

Directed by
Arthur Lubin 
Writing credits
Curt Siodmak (screenplay) (as Kurt Siodmak) &
Eric Taylor (screenplay)

Edmund L. Hartmann  screenplay construction contributor (uncredited)

Produced by
Burt Kelly .... associate producer
Original Music by
Hans J. Salter (uncredited)
Frank Skinner (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Elwood Bredell 
Film Editing by
Philip Cahn 
Art Direction by
Jack Otterson 
Set Decoration by
Russell A. Gausman  (as R.A. Gausman)
Costume Design by
Vera West (gowns)
Makeup Department
Jack P. Pierce .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Fred Frank .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Harold H. MacArthur .... associate art director
Sound Department
Bernard B. Brown .... sound supervisor
Charles Carroll .... sound technician
Special Effects by
John P. Fulton .... special effects director (uncredited)
Music Department
Hans J. Salter .... musical director (as H.J. Salter)
Ralph Freed .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Charles Henderson .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Charles Previn .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Other crew
Manley P. Hall .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
70 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Did You Know?

Bela Lugosi was originally cast as Dr. Sovac and Boris Karloff as Kingsley/Cannon, but Karloff's interpretation of the gangster was unconvincing and he was replaced by Stanley Ridges. Karloff instead got the role as Dr. Sovac and Lugosi got a minor role, although his second billing remained. (Bojarski, "The Films of Bela Lugosi", 1980)See more »
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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
The Man With Two Brains, 13 June 2003
Author: lugonian from Kissimmee, Florida

BLACK Friday (Universal, 1940), directed by Arthur Lubin, stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi together for the fifth time. In this mix of science fixture and gangster melodrama, they share no scenes together, resulting to a Karloff showcase, with Stanley Ridges giving a memorable performance in a role originally intended for Karloff in the role originally intended for Lugosi. More about that later.

The story begins in prison with Doctor Ernest Sovak (Boris Karloff) walking his last mile to the electric chair (on a Friday the 13th) for the murder of his closest and dearest friend, Professor George Kingsley. Before he is to meet with his destiny, Sovak stops for a moment to give his diary to a young newspaper reporter (James Craig) so that he can die leaving the world "the benefit of his scientific knowledge." As the reporter opens the doctor's diary, the scene shifts to an extended flashback where Sovak (offscreen) narrates the events that had lead him to his present state with the camera focusing from time to time on the his written passages written under the calendar date: George Kingsley is a kindly middle-aged but somewhat absent-minded college professor of English literature. He dismisses his class and enters the automobile driven by his friend, Ernest Slovak, along with his wife, Margaret (Virginia Brissac), and Slovak's daughter, Jean (Anne Gwynne). Stepping out of the automobile, Kingsley observes the sound of gunshots before two automobiles approach his way. One runs him down while the other, driven by gangsters headed by Eric Marnay (Bela Lugosi), head down another direction, fulfilling their mission by doing away with "Red" Cannon, a rival mobster, now belonging to "the history of crime." Placed in an ambulance along with Red Cannon, who will live only with a spine fracture, Sovak accompanies Kingsley, suffering from a near death concussion, to the hospital. Learning that the gangster Cannon has left behind $500,000 in stolen money, Sovak, in order to save his friend, decides to test his theory of "brain transplantation." He goes through with the operation by placing the gangster's brain into Kingsley's, logging every detail in is diary. Kingsley survives the operation, but goes through the split personality of becoming Cannon, avenging the men who tried to do him in, and resorting back to Kingsley. Several deaths result and the money is found. As Kingsley returns to his classes, the gentle professor cannot control his inner self whenever he hears police sirens, causing him to become the cold-blooded killer Cannon, out to get Sovak, his next-in-line victim.

The supporting cast features Anne Nagel as Sunny Rogers , a night club singer and Red Cannon's girl; Paul Fix as William Kane; Edmund MacDonald as Frank Miller; John Kelly as the gabby taxi driver; with Murray Alper and Joseph King, among others.

BLACK Friday is an interesting film of character study that proves to be a disappointment at times, mainly due to having Karloff and Lugosi working apart instead of as a team. According to Bob Dorian, former host of American Movie Classics, in his 1989-90 profile on BLACK Friday (originally titled "Friday the 13th"), mentions that the original script had Lugosi playing Sovak and Karloff as Professor Kingsley. While Karloff's kindly professor was believable, he wasn't convincing as the gangster. The doctor part went to Karloff, Ridges played the professor and Lugosi, already signed to appear, was reduced to play one of the mobsters. While Lugosi's role is limited, in fact, miscast, he is given one harrowing scene hiding inside the closet, only to be locked in by Cannon after discovering his whereabouts. Cannon places a refrigerator outside the door where the victim (who tried to rub him out) suffocates to death. Marnay's (Lugosi) constant pounding and bitter cry of "Let me out!" remains in memory long after the scene is over. An Academy Award nomination for Lugosi? I don't think so.

BLACK Friday did become part of the Universal Horror film horror collection on home video and later DVD through MCA Home Video. It's cable TV broadcast history consisted that of the Sci-Fi Channel (late 1980s) and American Movie Classics (1989-90, 2000-02). If the underscoring in the closing cast credits sound familiar, it was lifted from Karloff and Lugosi's previous collaboration of SON OF FRANKENSTEIN. That score would be used again in other Universal products through much of the early 1940s.

Although Stanley Ridges worked in numerous films over the years, this was one of the few times in which he had a leading role or two. Ridges does a good job here, probably better than anyone realizes. No doubt that BLACK Friday would have drifted to obscurity had it not been for the top names of Karloff and Lugosi heading the cast. In the tradition of many 1940s films, telling its story via flashback, BLACK FRDAY is certainly one not to be taken very seriously. (**)

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Observation regarding Karloff and Lugosi danzeisen
My 'Black Friday' tradition puddleglum5999
Why is Dr Sovac being executed? What capital offense did he commit? pap2348
Interesting Genre nickneill12
Lugosi character question (spoiler) sevswoman
Was Anne Nagel actually singing? prince-of-shibuya
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