Donovan’s Brain, written by Hugh Brooke and Felix Feist, based on the novel of the same name by Curt Siodmak, directed by Felix Feist, starring Lew Ayres (Dr. Patrick Cory), Gene Evans (Frank) and Nancy Davis (Janice Cory) (1953): This movie demonstrates why one should never take a brain out of a dying man’s body and keep it alive in what looks like a fish tank, a lesson as true today as it was in 1953.
Lew Ayres’s Dr. Cory secretly removes a dying industrialist’s brain from his body after a plane crash (this would be the eponymous Donovan) and uses it in his bodyless brain experiments. Unfortunately, Donovan was a strong-willed asshole. And apparently removing a brain from its body gives the brain mind-control powers. Cory finds himself being taken over by Donovan’s brain, while his wife (Nancy Davis would later become Nancy Reagan, by the way) and alcoholic doctor-pal Frank find themselves repeatedly prevented from killing the ever-more-powerful, and ever-larger, evil brain.
One of the charming things about this movie is that much of the middle action involves financial shenanigans, as tax-evading Donovan uses Cory as a proxy to round up hidden monies and then punish Donovan’s enemies. You’ll thrill to scenes which show how inter-state banking worked in the early 1950’s! The proposed method of stopping the brain is inspired, to say the least. An enjoyable, understated sci-fi B-movie with better acting than the norm for the time. Recommended.