Prof. Franz Mueller:
What do I know about the brain itself? Nothing. Can it think? Remember after its body is dead? Could it be made to feel, to hear perhaps, or to express itself in some way? To contact the living?
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Professor Franz Mueller (Erich von Stroheim) and his assistant Dr. Cory (Richard Arlen) are doing experiments on keeping the brain of an animal alive but they get their chance at a human one after a rich man named Donovan dies. They end up saving Donovan's brain but soon it begins to take control of Cory and sends him out to finish his bad deeds. Curt Siodmak's novel "Donovan's Brain" has been filmed countless times over the years and there have been even more rip-offs. I've never been a huge fan of the story because none of the film versions have really worked. This includes the first version, which is this Republic chiller that has a few good performances but sadly the end result just isn't all that good. One of the biggest problems is the incredibly slow pace by director George Sherman who never gets anything going. The entire movie runs 86-minutes but it feels nearly twice as long because we just get one boring sequence after another. A lot of the problems are long dialogue sequences that really don't add up to anything. This includes just about everything dealing with the dead man's widow who is trying to figure out where he late husband hid all of his money. The stuff dealing with Cory trying to close out various deals of Donovan's just don't work. Even worse is the silly love connection between Cory and another assistant (Vera Ralston), which really slows the movie down. It's funny to see that the movie would be re-released in 1949 but with nearly nineteen-minutes worth of footage cut out. I'm not one who supports studios cutting down movies but there have been many times where a shorter version helped and I'm going to guess that this is such a case. There are some good elements here and they're mainly the performances. I was really surprised to see how effective Arlen (ISLAND OF LOST SOULS) was. Not only was he very believable as the scientist but his turn as the bad guy was also well handled. The actor did a very good job at mixing the good and the bad and he certainly made the film much better. von Stroheim is also fun in his part, although at the same time you can't help but shake your head when seeing such a great talent playing in a film like this. Ralston is quite annoying in her part but perhaps that was on purpose. THE LADY AND THE MONSTER hasn't had a wide release since it first came out and after finally seeing it I can't say that it was worth the wait.
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