The Mind Snatchers (1972)

aka The Happiness Cage
Article 5023 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 12-19-2015
Directed by Bernard Girard
Featuring Christopher Walken, Joss Ackland, Ralph Meeker
Denmark / USA
What it is: Science fiction drama

A private in the army who has major disciplinary problems is arrested by the MPs, but instead of being taken to a stockade, he is taken to the clinic of a physician who is experimenting on human patients.

This is another one of those movies where most of the plot descriptions I found like to engage in spoilers; they tell you the nature of the doctor’s experiment, and in the movie itself, this isn’t revealed until the final third. Though this knowledge may not necessarily ruin your enjoyment of the movie, it does remove a mystery aspect of the story, and it could make you impatient with the middle third of the movie in which it explores the personalities and relationships between several of the major characters. The movie (which was based on a stage play) is a bit on the stodgy side, but it compensates for that by having interesting characters played by strong actors; in particular, Christopher Walken (as the soldier) and Ronny Cox (as his roommate in the clinic) are memorable. I won’t give away the nature of the experiment myself, but it does place the movie into the genre of science fiction, and thematically it touches upon one of themes of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. I will reveal this much, though; the experiment involves one of those concepts that seems benign on the surface but proves nightmarish in application. And, given what you see on the screen, the final line of the movie is truly chilling. I liked this one.

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