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 ...
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 »
The size of the brain in the tank keeps abruptly changing size, within the same scene. See more »
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.
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