Writer/producer/director Curt Siodmak was an instrumental figure in establishing the cross pollination of horror and science-fiction in the 1940’s and 1950’s. This émigré filmmaker who hailed from Dresden in Germany, wrote key screenplays for Universal’s The Wolf Man (1941), the Val Lewton produced I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and the brilliant Earth vs. The Flying Saucers (1956). But his most celebrated work was his 1942 novel Donovan’s Brain. It immediately proved a durable and adaptable narrative with an early film version appearing under the title The Lady and the Monster in 1943. In 1944 no less a talent than Orson Welles was suitably impressed by the pulp premise that he commissioned a two part radio production. In 1962 an Anglo/German production entitled The Brain directed by Freddie Francis appeared, but it is the 1953 version featuring Lew Ayers and Gene Evans that remains the most fondly remembered. The premise might be utterly ludicrous, but the notion of disembodied brain’s controlling and dominating susceptible minds became a remarkably pervasive science-fiction staple. From low grade imitations like The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962), and the slightly more impressive Fiend Without a Face (1958) to the Steve Martin vehicle The Man with Two Brains (1982), Siodmak’s influence has resonated down the decades.
© Shaun Anderson 2011