The Mind Benders (1963)

Article #1571 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-3-2005
Posting Date: 11-30-2005
Directed by Basil Dearden
Featuring Dirk Bogarde, Mary Ure, John Clements

In order to clear the reputation of a dead fellow scientist from charges of having been a traitor, a colleague agrees to undergo an isolation experiment that he believes changed the personality of the dead man. When the man from the ministry observes that the experiment brings about a state similar to that of brainwashing techniques, he takes the experiment one step further…

This is one of those rarities; a real science fiction drama. Despite the espionage angle, the movie is really concerned with how the experiment affects the characters and the relationships between them, and despite the fact that the DVD package mentions THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and ALTERED STATES (both of which share strong thematic similarities to this movie), I think it bears the strongest similarities to CHARLY, another movie about the effect an experiment has on a man’s character. The acting throughout the movie is strong (especially from Dirk Bogarde and Mary Ure as the scientist and his wife), and the opening scenes really suck you into the story. The movie does get rather slow on occasion, though some of it is necessary; in order for the plot to work, it requires we have a good knowledge of how the scientist, his wife, and a friend feel about each other. However, I still think that it could have used a little pruning of its 109 minute length. Nonetheless, this is a compelling and memorable movie.

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