Retrospektive 2018

Donovan's Brain

Felix E. Feist
USA 1953
83 min

Adapted earlier by Republic as a low-budget Von Stroheim vehicle, Curt Siodmak’s cult novel was transformed again with streamline efficiency by Felix E. Feist into a classic of Fifties sci-fi, and an off-beat climax of the long line of mad scientist fantasies that stretch across the Golden Age of the B-film. Veteran actor Lew Ayres gives Dr. Kildare dignity to his portrait of a scientist whose zeal for extending life leads him far down the dark path to perdition when he reanimates the powerful brain of a ruthless billionaire killed in a crash only to be made victim to the pulsing organ’s uncanny powers of mind-body control. Ayers’ turn into a hardened billionaire remains remarkably contemporary, with his strange lust for ludicrously expensive and ill-fitting suits predicting Paul Manaford, among other power hungry tycoons. Almost subversively, the supporting actors also seem to be rendered wooden and possessed by unnamed forces, with Gene Evans entirely unconvincing as either an alcoholic or a scientist and Nancy Davis locked into a stunned expression, giving equal affection to the latest test monkey as her traumatized husband. (Haden Guest)

  • Gene Evans
  • Steve Brodie
  • Lew Ayres
  • Nancy Davis (Reagan)
  • Tom Powers
  • Lisa Howard
  • James Andersen
  • Felix E. Feist
  • Hugh Brooke based on the novel by Curt Siodmak
  • Joseph F. Biroc
  • Eddie Dunstedter
Dowling Productions, United Artists
16 mm
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