Donovan's Brain

Watch Donovan's Brain

"A dead man's brain in a hidden laboratory told him to KILL... KILL... KILL"
  • Approved
  • 1953
  • 1 hr 23 min
  • 5.9  (1,687)

Donovan's Brain is a 1953 science-fiction film directed by Felix E. Feist and starring Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, and Nancy Reagan. The movie is based on the 1942 novel of the same name by Curt Siodmak. The story follows the research of Dr. Patrick Cory, a scientist who experiments with keeping the brain of a dying millionaire alive in a tank for experimental purposes. However, after the millionaire, W.H. Donovan, dies, his brain begins to take over the minds of those around it.

The main character, Dr. Cory, is played by Lew Ayres. The film opens with Dr. Cory attending a medical conference where he presents his groundbreaking research on brain transplanting. He is mocked by his peers, who belittle his work and call it unethical. But Dr. Cory remains determined to further his research in order to advance the field of medicine. His chance comes when a millionaire named W.H. Donovan, played by Nancy Reagan's then-husband Ronald Reagan, is in a plane crash that kills him but leaves his brain intact.

Donovan's brain is removed from his body and placed into a tank filled with nutrient-rich fluid, which keeps it alive. Dr. Cory begins experimenting on the brain, using electrodes to stimulate it and recording its activity. He soon discovers that the brain is learning and growing beyond what would've been expected. As he continues to study the brain, Dr. Cory becomes more and more obsessed with it, neglecting his wife and daughter and even going so far as to kill anyone who poses a threat to the brain's survival.

As the brain becomes more powerful, it begins to take over the minds of those around it, particularly Dr. Cory's assistant, Dr. Schratt (Gene Evans), who becomes increasingly erratic and agitated. The brain begins to communicate telepathically with Dr. Cory, urging him to seek out more brains to join it in the tank.

Donovan's Brain is a classic example of the 'mad scientist' genre of science-fiction films that were popular during the 1950s. The movie raises questions about the morality of experimenting with human life and the role of science in society. It also explores the idea of the mind as a separate entity from the physical body and how it can continue to exist even after death.

Despite its age, the film's plot remains engaging and suspenseful. Lew Ayres gives a convincing performance as the obsessed Dr. Cory, while Nancy Reagan shows off her acting chops in a small but memorable role as the millionaire's wife. Gene Evans also stands out as Dr. Schratt, who becomes increasingly unhinged as the brain exerts its influence over him.

The film's special effects are impressive for its time, particularly the scenes showing the brain in the tank, which look believable and suitably disturbing. The black-and-white cinematography gives the movie a moody, atmospheric look that adds to the suspenseful tone.

Overall, Donovan's Brain is an entertaining and thought-provoking science-fiction film that stands the test of time. Its engaging plot, strong performances, and well-executed special effects make it a must-watch for fans of the genre.

Donovan's Brain is a 1953 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 23 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.9.

Donovan's Brain
Where to Watch Donovan's Brain
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 23 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.9  (1,687)