Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


DONOVAN'S BRAIN (1953). Director: Felix Feist.

Irresponsible scientist Patrick Cory (Lew Ayres) removes the brain from a dead plane crash victim, and decides to keep it alive for study. It never occurs to him the living hell into which he has put his victim -- sort of alive and conscious, but unable to see, move, hear etc. (none of which is dealt with in this dumb movie) -- which is why it seems like ironic justice when the brain takes over Cory's mind. The dead man was a very wealthy and ruthless character, and he tries to get back his life and fortune by possessing the hapless Cory. Meanwhile, the brain starts inexplicably growing in size inside its tank...  Ayres gives a good performance in this clap trap, along with Nancy Davis (later Nancy Reagan) as his wife, while Gene Evans [The Giant Behemoth] is a cut below as an alcoholic associate of Cory's. The performers should be credited with playing their roles in this absurd film with straight-faced conviction. Steve Brodie is also fine as a blackmailing reporter who comes afoul of "the Brain." The music  by Eddie Dunstedter does a lot of the work. One good thing about the movie is that Cory doesn't just walk away from things without being held accountable for his actions. Feist also directed The Man Who Cheated Himself.

Verdict: As far as disembodied brain movies go, this isn't nearly as much fun as The Brain from Planet Arous. ** out of 4.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - I forgot Mrs. Reagan was in this one! What was that other B classic she was in? I think it was called The Next Voice You Hear...about God coming over the radio or something...
This one is OK, as you note, but for disembodied head movies (a genre in itself!) I prefer the campy They Saved Hitler's Brain!

William said...

I have a video file of "They saved Hitler's Brain" and have got to get around to actually seeing it one of these days as I believe Hitler is played by Marshall Reed, one of my favorite cliffhanger serial actors.