Sunday, August 18, 2013

Donovan's Brain (1953)

A dorky doctor (Lew Ayres) and his homely wife (Nancy Davis), along with his alcoholic friend, do experiments on monkey brains for the betterment of man. When a plane crashes nearby, Doc is pressed into triage duty. The lone survivor is brought to his home where despite their great efforts, he is declared dead. Dead, but not Brain Dead.

Stealing and experimenting on human brains is quite illegal so they'll need to cover their tracks carefully. But before they begin, there's no harm in allowing a reporter take pictures in his laboratory.

Doc hooks up a speaker to his equipment so that he can monitor the brain's health from the comfort of the living room. Inventing a telepathy device is the next logical step. Good thing this brain isn't that of an evil millionaire who would use his evil brain powers to take over peoples minds to do his evil brain bidding! Yea, that would be terrible.

Secretly, I found myself enjoying this movie. Because of the amazing story? The eerie atmosphere? State of the art special effects? Uhhh no. Ayres transformation from dorky doc to ruthless millionaire was rather good. Not exactly Academy recognition level, but it does rise above the rest of the film.

One of my reasons for watching this movie was because it stared Nancy Davis, aka Nancy Reagan. To look at her now, you would be quite surprised to learn that in her youth she was quite unattractive. In fact, when other characters called her attractive, it stretched credibility. Even for an evil brain movie.

Well, anyhow, typical 50's B-movie science fiction stuff follows and it's not all bad. This here is the second of three movies based directly on the 1942 Curt Siodmak novel, not including several other works that draw on it's influence (including a Star Trek episode). So maybe Donovan's brain isn't dead. Not dead, but brain dead? You decide. AMRU 3.
"I'm a doctor, not an electrician!"

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