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Donovan's Brain
Donovan's Brain
Actors: Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, Nancy Davis, Steve Brodie, Tom Powers
Director: Felix E. Feist
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Cult Movies
NR     2001     1hr 23min


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Movie Details

Actors: Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, Nancy Davis, Steve Brodie, Tom Powers
Director: Felix E. Feist
Creators: Joseph F. Biroc, Felix E. Feist, Allan Dowling, Herbert L. Strock, Tom Gries, Curt Siodmak, Hugh Brooke
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Horror, Science Fiction, Cult Movies
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/05/2001
Original Release Date: 09/30/1953
Theatrical Release Date: 09/30/1953
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 23min
Screens: Black and White,Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: Spanish, French
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Movie Reviews

AMAZING! ASTOUNDING! And A Pretty Good Little Movie, Too!
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 03/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"There is something grotesquely ironic about seeing former First Lady Nancy Regan as the caretaker of a disembodied brain bent on world conquest--but at the time the movie first appeared the great irony in casting concerned actor Lew Ayres, who was best remembered as for his screen series as the respectable and responsible Dr. Kildaire, and who here plays a mad scientist. One way or another, cult-film enthusiasts will have tremendous fun with this one. But even so, DONOVAN'S BRAIN has a lot more going for it than cult-film appeal: the story line continues to resonate in the modern era of medical ethics issues, the script is surprisingly intelligent, and the director and actors play it out at a snappy pace.Based on a successful novel, DONOVAN'S BRAIN concerns a scientist (Ayers) who is experimenting with keeping monkey brains alive in tanks--and when a nearby plane crash lands a terminal accident victim on his surgery table he presses his wife (Nancy Davis, later Regan) and surgical sidekick (Gene Evans) into recovering a human brain for his work. And he succeeds beyond all expection. Trouble is, the brain belongs to a truly evil multi-millionaire who wants to take over the world, and under Ayres care the brain grows... and begins to exert an unexpectedly nasty psychic influence on those around it.Ayres was a gifted leading man whose credits ranged from ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT to JOHNNY BELINDA, and the film owes much of its success to his talents; Gene Evans is also quite good as the drunken surgeon Ayres befriends. As for Nancy, she is clearly a B-Movie actress, but she is a surprisingly competent one. Cult fans will have a field day, but the movie is too interesting as a whole to be designated such pure and simple; it has a lot going for it, and just about every one who sees it will have a good time. Recommended."
Cool 50's "Brain" Flick
John Peterson | Marinette, WI USA | 06/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a neat movie based on Curt Siodmak's novel about Dr. Pat Cory (Lew Ayers), his assistant Dr. Frank Shratt (Gene Evans), and his wife Jan (Nancy Davis, who would later become First Lady, Nancy Reagan) experimenting on a monkey's brain, trying to keep it alive on its own, when an airplane crash happens near by. Requiring the doctor's assistance, he uses his house to perform an operation on the only survivor, the multi-millionaire Warren Donovan. This fails, but Cory hits upon the idea of using Donovan's brain for his experiments, with some unexpected results.This isn't a gory movie by any means, but it is very effective with good performances all around.The print that was used for the DVD is very clear and detailed, which sometimes shows the movie's shortcomings (some inferior stock footage for a car crash sequence and a poorly "matted" rain shot). This budget DVD comes with a theatrical trailer and is closed captioned. If you're a sci-fi fan, I highly recommend it."
Thomas E. O'Sullivan | Knoxville, Maryland United States | 06/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The first question most every one seems to ask about DONOVAN'S BRAIN is, is it true that Nacy Reagan is in it? And the answer is yes, but at the time she was Nancy Davis and she was just coming off HELLCATS OF THE NAVY and into this effective and very entertaining sci-fi/monster missing link that started life as a novel and was made three times into movies (THE LADY AND THE MONSTER, DONOVAN'S BRAIN, and finally just THE BRAIN). After what seems a very slow opening (where Nancy Davis does her own scene with a monkey), the film takes off once we're introduced to all the prinicpals and their secret work in the rumpus room keeping brains alive. DONOVAN'S BRAIN offers surprise after surprise. You don't expect it to be a film that works - the idea behind it seems impossible, but this film manages the impossible by giving us the standard sci-fi/monster set up, and then does a complete turn around and presents us with an almost Hitchcockian noir thriller involving the IRS, back taxes, bribery, blackmail, murder and vice. And it all comes to a conclusion that was almost unheard of in sci-fi/monster films of the 1950's - a ending grounded in reality, and a loose end at that (I can think of only two other films in the 50's that come to this kind of end and that would be THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and THEM!). DONOVAN'S BRAIN is not to missed, nor ignored. If you're a fan of the genre it's a must own, and if you're a casual buyer you will find DONOVAN'S BRAIN offers more that just a monster, but a solid script, fine preformances (Nacy Davis is actually very good in this film), and many surprises."
Great lesser known title!!
Tuco | Phoenix, Az USA | 04/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Donovan's Brain is a perfect example of how enjoyable a good 50's sci-fi flick can be. Great script and solid acting with adequate special effects makes this one a real winner.

I enjoyed this brainy excursion and think it has great potential for repeat watchability. If you enjoyed this film, I also strongly recommend Creature With The Atom Brain, another very enjoyable sci-fi effort with a similar story."