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Donovan’s Brain

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A dead man's brain in a hidden laboratory tells him to kill ... kill ... kill ... Donovan's Brain (1953), starring Lew Ayers, Gene Evans, Steve Brodie, Nancy Reagan Davis
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Donovan’s Brain (1953), starring Lew Ayres, Gene Evans, Steve Brodie, Nancy Reagan Davis

Synopsis of Donovan’s Brain

In Donovan’s Brain, when a rich, selfish, multimillionaire is critically wounded in a plane crash, a nearby doctor uses an experimental procedure to preserve his brain after the death of the body. And Donovan’s brain survives … and thrives … and controls .. and kills.

Review of Donovan’s Brain

Curt Siodmak’s novel, Donovan’s Brain, has been filmed several times – but never better than in this 1953 version. It’s a compelling story, with an excellent cast. Special mention goes out to Lew Ayers, who does a convincing job of the good-hearted scientist. Ayers does an excellent job portraying gradually becomes more and more under Donovan’s control, gradually adopting Donovan’s traits. And murdering Donovan’s victims.

Cast of Donovan’s Brain:

  • Dr. Patrick J. Cory (Lew Ayres – Dr. Kildare, All’s Quiet on the Western Front) – the research scientist who manages to preserve Donovan’s brain after his body’s death — and lives to regret it.
  • Dr. Frank Schratt (Gene Evans – My Friend Flicka, Operation Petticoat) – Cory’s best friend, an alcoholic doctor, assistant, and sounding board.
  • Janice Cory (Nancy Reagan – Hellcats of the Navy) – Cory’s devoted wife, who tries to rescue him from Donovan’s control.
  • Herbie Yocum (Steve Brodie – The Caine MutinyThe Giant Spider Invasion) – the reporter who realizes that Cory is taking money from Donovan’s various accounts, and tries to blackmail him – with deadly results.

Editorial review of Donovan’s Brain courtesy of

Newly Remastered in HD! This Brain Has Some Ideas Of Its Own! Prepare to be scared senseless with this shocking horror-fest that’s bursting with startling special effects. Lew Ayers (All Quiet on the Western Front) stars with Gene Evans (The Steel Helmet), Steve Brodie (Out of the Past) and future first lady Nancy Reagan Davis (Hellcats of the Navy) in this terrifying film experience that’ll blow your brain and fry your mind.

Dr. Patrick Corey (Ayres) has a hideous hobby – he keeps brains alive! So when the brain of dead murderer W.H. Donovan falls into his possession, bringing him back to life becomes his obsession. But the cunning cranium has its own agenda – to control the doctor’s mind through telepathic messages! Now, Cory’s wife (Davis) must put a stop to the devious brain before it destroys the man she loves – and her in the process! Directed by Felix E. Feist (The Big Trees) and beautifully shot in glorious black-and-white by the great Joseph F. Biroc (It s a Wonderful Life).

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