Donovan’s Brain

Director– Felix E. Feist

Starring – Gene Evans,Lew Ayres, Nancy Reagan

Country of Origin - U.S.

Discs - 1

Distributor - Kino Lorber

Reviewer - David Steigman

Date - 04/11/2016

The Film: 4/5

Who would have thought Curt Siodmak’s science fiction novel of Donovan’s Brain, would wind up having three film adaptations based on it. The three films are The Lady and the Monster, The Brain and the movie being reviewed, Donovan’s Brain 

Considered to be the best among the three film versions of the novel, Donovan’s Brain is the story about a doctor who keeps brains alive to study. Dr Patrick Cory (Lew Ayres) decides to keep the brain of a ruthless, now deceased millionaire, WH Donovan, alive in a tank. The brain becomes so powerful that soon its will begins to take over Dr. Cory’s mind and body to do his evil bidding. Under control of the brain, Dr. Cory not only begins to act and behave like WH Donovan, and also doing a series of terrible things, including murdering his enemies. With the help of Dr. Cory’s wife, Janice Cory (Nancy Davis, aka Nancy Reagan, and yes the former first lady) and his assistant Dr. Frank Schratt (Gene Evans from The Giant Behemoth and Devil Times Five) they are able to finally thwart the horror of Donovan’s Brain.

This is an absolute gem of a film. Donovan’s Brain has a cast that gives excellent performances, has good direction, and has both a blend of gangster, science fiction and horror atmosphere without any special effects or monsters. This film will surely satisfy fans of classic black and white suspenseful thrillers from this era. Nancy Davis, later Nancy Reagan was in several classics including Hellcats of the Navy where she and future husband President Ronald Reagan were in the same film. Curt Siodmak, the writer of the novel was set to direct the movie, but it wound up going to Felix E. Feist who did a great job, and prevented this from being a B movie.


Audio/Video: 4.5/5

Kino’s release of Donovan’s Brain is just outstanding. Presented in 1080p AVE MPEG-4, the picture quality is nothing short of spectacular. The higher resolution shows more detail, more depth, clarity with present grain. The image is much brighter than the old MGM Midnite Movie DVD. Just marvelous

Audio – Kino has once again gone with a DTS-HE master 2.0  for its audio, and, I encountered no audio issues. Dialog and music are perfectly sound

Extras (2.5/5)

Kino has delivered a few good extras including an audio commentary by film historian Richard Harlan Smith, Trailers from Hell with Joe Dante, and trailers for Donovan's Brain, The Black Sleep, and The Magnetic Monster


This is one terrific package from Kino, a great science fiction horror gangster movie this looks excellent in HD and with some good supplements makes this one a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED release.