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Donovan's Brain (1953)

6.0
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Ratings: 6.0/10 from 875 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 15 critic

Yet another version of Curt Siodmak's novel about an honest scientist who keeps the brain of a ruthless dead millionaire (Donovan) alive in a tank. Donovan manages to impose his powerful ... See full summary »

Director:

(as Felix Feist)

Writers:

(novel), (adaptation), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Gene Evans ...
...
Janice Cory (as Nancy Davis)
Steve Brodie ...
Herbie Yocum
Tom Powers ...
Donovan's Washington Advisor
Lisa Howard ...
Chloe Donovan (as Lisa K. Howard)
James Anderson ...
Chief Tuttle (as Kyle James)
Victor Sutherland ...
Nathaniel Fuller
Michael Colgan ...
Tom Donovan
Peter Adams ...
Mr. Webster
Harlan Warde ...
Treasury Agent Brooke
Shimen Ruskin ...
Tailor
Edit

Storyline

Yet another version of Curt Siodmak's novel about an honest scientist who keeps the brain of a ruthless dead millionaire (Donovan) alive in a tank. Donovan manages to impose his powerful will on the scientist, and uses him to murder his enemies. Written by Marty McKee <mmckee@wkio.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Sci-Fi | Horror

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

30 September 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Donovans Hirn  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dr. Cory, under the control of the brain, makes out a list showing several false identities under which Donovan has hidden money around the country. The first four names on the list are actual names of crew members: production supervisor H.B. Chapman, production designer Boris Leven, assistant director Jack R. Berne (on list as "Jack Byrne") and set decorator Edward Boyle. The fifth name, Fred Russell, is that of a popular sports writer of the early 1950s. See more »

Goofs

The size of the brain in the tank keeps abruptly changing size, within the same scene. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Patrick J. Cory: Perhaps I'll cure Frank and every other alcoholic if I can solve the mystery of Donovan's Brain. I think it's a matter of chemistry how the brain thinks. The problem is to find out what chemical combinations are responsible for success... failure... happiness... misery.
Janice Cory: Sounds impossible.
Dr. Patrick J. Cory: But it is not. It can't be. There has to be a way.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Man with Two Brains (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Out of the ashes of noir rises the sci-fi cycle
25 February 2002 | by (Western New York) – See all my reviews

When the noir cycle was running down (and out) in the early 1950s, the new spate of "sci-fi" movies could lay claim to being among its bastard offspring. These programmers about atomic mutants, mad scientists and monsters from the night sky took over the quick-and-dirty, bottom-of-the-bill status the noirs once occupied. Rarely, however, did they boast their known and seasoned casts or their distinctive visual style (how could they? They were all set out in the damn desert).

But they also inherited some noir veterans. Donovan's Brain was directed by Felix Feist (The Devil Thumbs A Ride, Tomorrow Is Another Day) and originally written by Curt Siodmak (Berlin Express).

Scientist Lew Ayres works on keeping monkey brains alive outside their bodies. When a powerful millionaire dies in a car crash conveniently nearby, Ayres volunteers to resuscitate the brain and succeeds beyond his hopes. In its electromagnetic bath, the organ pulsates and glows, developing telepathic powers. Soon it's taking over Ayres' personality; he starts living Donovan's life and continuing his dirty work, all the way to Washington.

Ayres' wife (Nancy Davis at her most charmless and plain-jane) grows alarmed, and plans to unplug the brain. Trouble is, it can sense hostility and defend itself....

Feist applies some practised suspense techniques to the story, and with Joseph Biroc's photography the movie doesn't look bad, either. But it's high point is Ayres as he shifts from mild researcher to the insolent, despotic Donovan. He makes the hour and a half something more than just passable.


6 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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