HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
Wing Commander
Look Back in Anger
   
 
Newest Articles
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
   
 
  Donovan's Brain Dread To ThinkBuy this film here.
Year: 1953
Director: Felix E. Feist
Stars: Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, Nancy Reagan, Steve Brodie, Tom Powers, Lisa Howard, James Anderson, Victor Sutherland, Michael Colgan, Peter Adams, Harlan Warde, Shimen Ruskin
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Dr Patrick Cory (Lew Ayres) is working in the field of brain transplants out in his countryside laboratory, which happens to double as his home. He shares it with his wife Janice (Nancy Davis, soon to be called Nancy Reagan) and his research assistant Frank Schratt (Gene Evans) who is having trouble staying sober recently; when Cory and his wife arrive home with a new test subject, a live monkey, Frank is huddled under a blanket on the floor and in a booze induced haze. Nevertheless, his friend and colleague has faith in him, and soon they are setting about taking the monkey's brain from its skull and trying to make it live independently...

Nothing to do with the head of any particular Scottish folk rockers, this was another version of Curt Siodmak's celebrated science fiction thriller, a novel which has proven influential in its own small way, mostly in the manner science fiction and horror treats the brain. It had been made most memorably before this as The Lady and the Monster back in 1944, but this is probably the most celebrated incarnation of the tale of a rich industrialist's second favourite organ being removed after a plane crash and used by the scientist to demonstrate his theories that it is possible to preserve a thinking brain, in this case in a fish tank half-filled with goop, and even communicate with it.

But this would be a listless movie if it was simply Lew Ayres playing games of chess with his new friend, so once he has had the idea that it is likely a psychic bond can be created between him and Donovan, the stage is set for sinister happenings for the rest of the plot. Interesting for the period this was crafted, the millionaire illustrates all the worst aspects of capitalism, that is a dedicated self-interest and a willingness to ride roughshod over anyone who gets in the path of his profits, not a message that you would have thought would go down very well in fifties, anti-Communist U.S.A. if it hadn't been attached to a minor classic of sci-fi writing, and rendering the results all the more subversive.

Not that this was a rallying call under the red flag for Americans to throw off their chains, but its critical nature of the status quo as exemplified by Donovan was one which added a little depth to what was essentially a brisk fantasy with suspense sequences liberally applied. The brain itself was rather marvelous in that once it was infused with Cory's experimentations it began to grow, pulsate and even glow, thus setting in stone the most indelible image of the supermind in this genre for decades to come, whether it be the exposed brain of the Metaluna mutant in This Island Earth, John Agar's nemesis The Brain from Planet Arous, or even Steve Martin's improbable love affair in The Man with Two Brains, every one of those organs had a macabre quality thanks to the sense that we were seeing what we were not supposed to: they should have been concealed in the skull.

Once Cory had made his psychic link with the evil Donovan, he finds his will being sapped as the corporate monster takes him over, to the extent that Cory even starts limping and holding his aching kidney just as his mental invader did when he had his own body. What Donovan gets up to in this guise is to set about securing his fortune to do with what he pleased, which mostly involved generating more of it, plenty more, and not allowing anyone else to get their mitts anywhere near the moolah, not the tax man, not charities, and especially not his family who start to wonder who this Cory chap is and how he has the blessings of their relative - Donovan commands his handwriting to pen notes in his recognisable scrawl. Whether by this time the filmmakers were basing the villain on Howard Hughes is intriguing to ponder, but in the main the film was a slightly daft but pacy march through a predictable plot, plus you got to see the future First Lady of the eighties in her previous career, dull but a shade more credible than she was opposite her husband in Hellcats of the Navy. Music by Eddie Dunstedter.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 940 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: