6.3/10
1,775
48 user 38 critic

Black Friday (1940)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Horror | 12 April 1940 (USA)
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.

Director:

Arthur Lubin

Writers:

Curt Siodmak (screenplay) (as Kurt Siodmak), Eric Taylor (screenplay)
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

1 win. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A scientist becomes murderous after discovering, and being exposed to the radiation of, a powerful new element called Radium X.

Director: Lambert Hillyer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake
The Raven (1935)
Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A brilliant surgeon obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe saves the life of a beautiful dancer and goes mad when he can't have her.

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lester Matthews
The Black Cat (1934)
Adventure | Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

American honeymooners in Hungary become trapped in the home of a Satan-worshiping priest when the bride is taken there for medical help following a road accident.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, David Manners
Certificate: Passed Crime | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames
Night Key (1937)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

The inventor of a new top-of-the-line burglar alarm system is kidnapped by a gang in order to get him to help them commit robberies.

Director: Lloyd Corrigan
Stars: Boris Karloff, Warren Hull, Jean Rogers
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King ... See full summary »

Director: Rowland V. Lee
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil
Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Ignoring an ancient prophecy, evil brother Gregor seeks to maintain his feudal power on his his Tyrolean estate by murdering and impersonating his benevolent younger twin.

Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen
Certificate: Passed Drama | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A mad scientist turns a man into an electrically-controlled monster to do his bidding.

Director: George Waggner
Stars: Lionel Atwill, Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Nagel
Crime | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When Dr. Savaard's experiment in cryonics is interrupted by the short-sighted authorities, his volunteer dies, and he is condemned to death. He vows vengeance if he can survive his own hanging.

Director: Nick Grinde
Stars: Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Man investigates the disappearance of two of his friends who were the guests of a sinister Austrian count.

Director: Nathan Juran
Stars: Richard Greene, Boris Karloff, Stephen McNally
Film-Noir | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Noble-born cad Denis (Stapley) has been tricked into a forced stay at the eerie manor of the Sire de Maletroit (Laughton), an evil madman who can't get over the death of his beloved, twenty... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Pevney
Stars: Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest
The Black Cat (1941)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Elderly Henrietta Winslow lives in an isolated mansion with her housekeeper and beloved cats. As her health fails, her greedy relatives gather in anticipation of her death.

Director: Albert S. Rogell
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Hugh Herbert, Broderick Crawford
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
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 Robert Morgan ... Hotel Associate
Edit

Storyline

When his friend Professor Kingsley is at deaths door, brain surgeon Dr. Sovac saves his life by means of an illegal operation that transplants part of injured gangster Red Cannon's brain. Unfortunately, the operation has a disastrous Jeckll and Hyde side effect and under certain conditions the persona of Cannon emerges. Sovac soon learns of the duel personality and of half a million dollars the gangster has hidden away. He attempts to find the money through the manipulation of his friend, an attempt that brings Kingsley closer to madness as he alternates between a meek professor of English and a brutal gangster out for murderous revenge on those who tried to kill him. Written by Carlos Valverde <revchuck@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A Reign Of HORROR... a man-made monster on the loose!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 April 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Friday the Thirteenth See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$125,750 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In an interview, Curt Siodmak said of Boris Karloff, who demanded - and obtained - Bela Lugosi's role in Black Friday (1940): "Karloff didn't want to play the dual role in Black Friday. He was afraid of it. There was too much acting in it. It was too intricate." Karloff thus ended up with the part written specifically for Lugosi, inexcusably leaving the Hungarian actor to play a then poorly cast, minor role as an American gangster, instead of being given Karloff's dual role which instead went to Stanley Ridges. In an interesting twist of events, the following year, Lugosi would have the chance to prove how great he would have been in the dual part, as he was cast in a split personality role in Monogram's Invisible Ghost (1941) See more »

Goofs

Professor Kingsley is seen to scream and throw up his hands before the car is doing anything more than moving forward and is not headed in his direction. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Ernest Sovac: Evidently my friend has gone out.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Mondo Lugosi - A Vampire's Scrapbook (1987) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Gangsters enter the horror genre...
25 July 2007 | by jluis1984See all my reviews

The figure of the gangster in fiction has always been a very popular and fascinating image since the hardboiled crime fiction of the late 20s made the gangster a new model of antihero for the modern times. Through the decade of the 30s, gangster films and crime melodramas would become very popular among the audiences, culminating in the development of the Film Noir, the highly stylish kind of crime films that reigned supreme during the 40s and the 50s. Considering the popularity of gangsters in movies, it wasn't a surprise that soon they became used as characters in a wide array of stories, and horror films weren't an exception. Among the films that successfully mixed horror with crime melodrama, 1940's "Black Friday" was definitely one of the best. An often forgotten movie that had in his cast two of the most important figures in the horror genre: Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

"Black Friday" begins on a Friday 13, with Professor George Kinglsey (Stanley Ridges) giving his last class of English literature at the University of his town as he has been offered a position in a different school. However, on is way to the train station, Kinglsey is ran over by a car, putting his life in serious danger. In a last attempt to save Kingsley's life, his good friend Dr. Ernest Sovac (Boris Karloff) performs an illegal operation: Sovac implants parts of another man's brain into the professor's. Fortunately, the experiment is successful and Kingsley begins to recover his health quickly. However, something has changed in his good nature, and soon Sovac discovers that the personality of the man he used to save his friends can take control of the professor's body. And the problem is that the man was Red Cannon, a notorious gangster who now wants revenge.

With a screenplay written by Eric Taylor and Curt Siodmak, "Black Friday" is essentially a modern reinterpretation of R.L. Stevenson's classic horror novel "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" with gangster Red Cannon acting as the movie's Mr. Hyde. Like Stevenson's story, "Black Friday" is an interesting character study about human morality; however, while the professor's split personalities do represent two extreme sides of the human nature, the real drama is on Karloff's character, Dr. Sovac, who is at a crossroads between his willingness to help his friend and his desire to use him to prove that his theories about the brain are correct. While it is not on the level of Siodmak's posterior work (his immortal "The Wolf Man" for example), he and Taylor make a great job in creating an interesting story and developing remarkably their main characters.

A seasoned director of low-budget crime melodramas, Arthur Lubin makes a very effective work at the helm of "Black Friday", and manages to give the film the exact kind of atmosphere that made gangster films very popular in those years. The great work of cinematography done by his regular collaborator Elwood Bredell plays an important role in this, and in many ways one could say that "Black Friday" is one of the direct precursors of the Film Noir style. Despite the low-budget, "Black Friday" has that very polished and elegant look that movies produced by Universal in those years had, although this film lacks the ominous Gothic atmosphere of the classic 30s horror movies, as it relies more on its characters than in visual style. As usual, Lubin's directing of his cast is remarkable, and he manages to bring the best out of his actors, specially of Stanley Ridges.

While acting alongside legendary icons such as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, it's hard to avoid being overshadowed, however, Stanley Ridges not only manages to do that, he also achieves to deliver the best performance in the whole film. In his dual role, Kingsley is simply amazing, going from the good hearted Kingsley to the sociopath Cannon with remarkable ease, making the two characters look as if they were played by two actors. Even though Ridges steals the film, Karloff is still great as Sovac, which is a slightly more complex variation of his trademark "Mad Scientist" character. Bela Lugosi is also wonderful as Cannon's rival Eric Marnay, although sadly his role is extremely small despite having top billing. Finally, Anne Nagel is very effective as Sunny Rogers, the classic femme fatal of the movie.

With excellent performances by an effective cast, as well as solid directing by Lubin, "Black Friday" is a very good movie for its time and an example of the kind of horror movies that would dominate the decade. However, in all fairness this movie is not exactly a masterpiece as a small yet important problem that prevents it from reaching its true potential. The main problem is the serious miscasting of both Karloff and Lugosi, who really seem to be in the wrong role. Don't get me wrong, both make a great job in their characters (Lugosi has a couple of amazing scenes), but it's difficult not to think that Lugosi is playing Karloff's character and vice-versa (apparently, Karloff was supposed to play Ridges' character). Another detail is that those expecting the classic Gothic style of Universal's horror films will be sorely disappointed.

In many ways it could be said that "Black Friday" represents the ending of an era for the horror genre, and the beginning of another. Karloff and Lugosi, the ones who started the Golden Age of Gothic horror in the 30s, appear here in a movie that forecasts the moody noir-influenced horrors of the 40s. While different to the rest, "Black Friday" is still an excellent horror and a chance to see Stanley Ridges in his best role overshadowing two icons. 7/10


8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 48 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed