Donovan's Brain

Year: 1953

Production: Dowling Productions/United Artists

Director: Felix Feist

Starring: Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, Nancy Davis

Screenwriter: Felix Feist

Based on Donovan's Brain by Curt Siodmak

83 minutes; B/W


Two other Hollywood films, The Lady and the Monster (1944) and Vengeance (1962) were based on the same book but this version by vintage director Feist is closest to the original novel. Ayres as brain scientist Cory (played with real conviction) tries to save the life of millionaire Donovan (Colgan) but fails. Seizing his opportunity for the advancement of science, he removes Donovan's brain and secretly keeps it alive in his laboratory only to have the brain take over his mind. The take-over sequences are brilliantly portrayed with Ayres altering the expression on his face without any help from the makeup department. Donovan's brain has evil intent, and apart from making the scientist continue his tax-dodging scene it tries to kill Ayre's assistant Evans (a fine performance) and wife Davis (Nancy Reagan to be). But as Ayres begins to strangle her, a lightning bolt strikes the brain and the menace is no more.

The Overlook Film Encyclopedia - Science Fiction

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