The Brain Machine (1956)

Article 1804 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-21-2006
Posting Date: 7-21-2006
Directed by Ken Hughes
Featuring Maxwell Reed, Elizabeth Allan, Patrick Barr

A woman doctor believes an amnesia patient may be mentally unbalanced when she compares the results of a brain wave test with those of a known psychotic. When the patient leaves before she can do anything about it, she informs the police, who can do nothing because he has not yet committed a crime. Shortly after this, however, she is kidnapped by the patient…

Several plot outlines of this movie claim that the machine itself renders its subjects psychotic. Had this been true, this movie would have definitely fallen in the realm of science fiction. This is not the case, however; the machine merely records their thought waves, and though it would take someone with more of experience with these tests and machines to make the real call here, I’m suspecting that there’s nothing here that falls out of the bounds of the scientific knowledge at the time. Hence, the fantastic elements of this movie are at best marginal, and probably non-existent in science fiction terms, and though the madness that figures into the plot may nudge it a little in the direction of horror, it really doesn’t nudge it far enough. At heart, this is a basic crime thriller, and not really a bad one. It does strain credibility at times, but never so much to do it any real damage. Its biggest problem is that the climax of the movie emphasizes the actions of some of the less sympathetic characters in the movie, while the ones we care most about are not at all at risk at this point. Director Ken Hughes would later direct another movie I’ve covered for this series, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG .


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