Friday, 2 May 2008

The Man Who Changed His Mind (1936)

The Man Who Changed His Mind is a 1936 British mad scientist movie, with Boris Karloff as the mad scientist. He’s Dr Laurience – brilliant, but just a trifle unstable, and regarded with suspicion by his more conventional colleagues. He is on the verge of perfecting a method by which the personality can be transferred from one body to another. He has succeeded wit animals, and is naturally anxious to try on humans. He has just acquire a beautiful young assistant, Dr. Clare Wyatt (Anna Lee), and has made a deal with a newspaper tycoon. The deal gives him access to money and a modern fully equipped mad scientist laboratory. Of course when he reveals the nature of his work to a gathering of eminent scientists he is mocked and reviled. His becomes bitter and twisted, and is also painfully aware that he is no longer young. If only he had a young body, he could continue his experiments indefinitely. You can pretty much see where the plot is going from this point on.

It’s the performances that lift this one above the general run of such films. Karloff is in fine form, giving us a villain who misunderstood and fairly sympathetic but still frightening in his obsessiveness. Anna Lee is delightful. Great support is offered by Donald Calthrop as one of the good doctor’s patients, a man crippled and embittered by a horrible illness, and by Frank Cellier as the newspaper magnate. John Loder is likeable enough as Clare’s boyfriend, who happens to be the son of the wealthy press baron. With direction by Robert Stevenson and cinematography by Jack E. Cox there’s nothing flashy about the movie but it does boast some nice use of shadows and lighting and it generally looks quite impressive. There are some very cool mad scientist gizmos. A nice touch is that it’s the beautiful female assistant who saves the day, without any help from any of the men. It’s a movie that compares quite favourably with the Universal horror films of the same period. An absolute must for Karloff fans. Great entertainment.

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