The Man With Nine Lives (1940)

Article #1414 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-27-2005
Posting Date: 6-26-2005
Directed by Nick Grinde
Featuring Boris Karloff, Roger Pryor, Jo Ann Sayers

A doctor intent on discovering the medical secrets of frozen therapy visits the abandoned home of a pioneer in the research who vanished ten years ago. There he discovers the doctor himself and revives him from his frozen state.

The basic type of story here is very familiar. A scientist attempts a radical new cure for a dangerous disease. Outsiders believe he has already committed murder, and in their attempts to bring him to justice, they cause the death of the man he was attempting to cure. The doctor flips out and resorts to murder to continue his research. That’s pretty much the story with this one. Karloff is good as usual, though I think his greatest challenge for these types of movies was to find some ways to play his character a little differently each time. Still, this is probably one of the lesser entries in Columbia’s “Mad Doctor” movies featuring Karloff.

I did find two interesting points about this one. First of all, I was somewhat amused by the opening operation scene, in which a woman is frozen by a) packing her in ice and b) blowing fans on her. She is then revived by a) giving her a heating pad, and b) making her drink hot coffee. All right, there’s a mysterious machine involved as well, but I still found these methods to be amusingly low-tech. The other is the final scene, which appears to forgive the Karloff character for his transgressions. an ending which strikes me as rather controversial.


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