The Man Without a Body (1957)

Article #1415 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-28-2005
Posting Date: 6-27-2005
Directed by Charles Saunders and W. Lee Wilder
Featuring George Coulouris, Robert Hutton, Julia Arnall

A dying industrialist concocts a scheme to stave off his death by having his brain replaced by that of the prophet Nostradamus.

On a purely technical level, I have no problem with this movie; it’s a competent low-budget feature in this regard. The script is something else again. Between the incredibly demented storyline and the jaw-droppingly bad dialogue, one can only marvel that the actors were able to keep a straight face throughout this one. What can one say to a scene in which our industrialist decides to go window-shopping for a new brain by visiting Madame Tussaud’s wax museum? Or to dialogue like “You think fast, Nostradamus!” In fact, this movie may contain what I consider to be one of the most unintentionally surreal scenes in the history of cinema, and that is when the industrialist desperately tries to convince the disembodied head of Nostradamus that he (the head, that is) is not in fact Nostradamus, but rather the industrialist instead. Personally, if I had tried to pull a stunt like that and failed, I would be very wary of any stock investment advice that the head might offer, but that doesn’t stop the industrialist. And I haven’t even brought up the fact that our monster in the final reels of the movie looks less like a thing of terror and more like a mascot for the American Dental Association. George Coulouris is a long way from CITIZEN KANE here.

Oh, and I also have an opinion about the probable condition of Nostradamus’s head after 400 years in the grave, but I’ve bet you’ve already beat me to that one.


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