|Index||3 reviews in total|
After a science-fiction type opening, the film develops into a neat and engrossing little thriller, with lively playing by the leads. The central performance of the much underrated Maxwell Reed is especially noteworthy, and the film is all the more impressive for his presence. In fact, was there anyone better in this type of role, in British cinema, during that particular time? It is also interesting, for its time, in that there is a distinct undercurrent of attraction for Reed's character, Frank Smith, by Dr Roberts (Elizabeth Allan) which is clearly magnified during the closing scene of the film when her estranged husband Dr Allen (Patrick Barr) is also present. All-in-all an enjoyable little thriller which, although rarely screened, is well worth catching.
The most bizarre aspect of this competent minor British kidnap thriller is its completely inappropriate packaging as science fiction. The 'Brain Machine' of the title refers to an electroencephalograph which is used by psychologists to identify brainwave patterns characteristic of psychotics. That is indeed a futuristic concept, but the eponymous machine actually only features in the first ten minutes or so. The title sequence is very techy, and the theme tune is the same as the TV serial version of 'Quatermass and the Pit'. Indeed, the opening scene, where the brain machine is introduced to us, is highly reminiscent of scenes in Quatermass, 'X the Unknown' and similar pictures. But after that, the whole thing settles down into thriller mode, with a traditional nick o' time climax. Enjoyable, but misleading.
"The Brain Machine" is a crackling good film noir, owing to a
well-constructed story and direction by Ken Hughes, dark photography by
Josep Ambor, and the excellent work of Maxwell Reed. This perhaps
mis-titled movie is not science fiction.
Two research doctors (Patrick Barr and Elizabeth Allan) are separating as the story commences. At her new hospital, Allan looks into the case of Reed, who has been struck by a bus, affecting his memory. Her work on EEGs shows that he is in a parlous state. Reed actually has been involved in the illicit sale of cortisone, manufactured by one Amalgamated Chemical Company. Striking out on his own, he is soon pursued by criminals and police, while taking Allan hostage. Barr follows up on leads too.
"The Brain Machine" is an above-average Brit-noir. As far as I can tell, it hasn't been released to DVD. How nice if it were.
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