THE BRAIN (1962)
Article 2186 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-11-2007
Posting Date: 8-7-2007
Directed by Freddie Francis
Featuring Anne Heywood, Peter van Eyck, Cecil Parker
A scientist experimenting with keeping brains alive removes one from the head of an industrialist who died in his laboratory after a plane crash. He then finds himself possessed by the industrialist, and embarks on an attempt to find out who planted the bomb on the plane.
This is the third version of Curt Siodmak’s novel “Donovan’s Brain”. I don’t know which of the three movie versions follows the novel the most closely, but I’m most familiar with the second one (DONOVAN’S BRAIN) and generally consider that the definitive version of the story. When I saw this version years ago, I disliked the fact that it strayed so far from the intent of that earlier version from the fifties, but on viewing it now, I admire the way it manages to take the story in a different direction and still keep it interesting. It is less concerned with the possession of the doctor by the brain (though that still plays into the story), and more concerned about the mystery aspect, and in following this story line, it takes some very interesting turns, and deepens the theme of the “ends justifying the means” that runs through it. In a sense, it’s a bit more reminiscent of D.O.A or THE WALKING DEAD than other versions of the story. It’s also helped by a good performance by Peter Van Eyck, the presence of Bernard Lee from the James Bond movies, and some interesting characters; my favorite is that of the rebellious son who takes revenge on his father by portraying him as a monster in several paintings. Since it’s focused on the mystery aspect, it ends on an ambiguous note since the possession-by-brain plot is never really resolved, but I think it gave the movie a somewhat intriguing touch. It’s not a great movie, but I definitely liked it more on the second viewing.