Friday, November 30, 2018

The Man Without a Body (1957)

Wealthy businessman Carl Broussard is content with his life, but it's been going downhill lately due to a serious brain tumour. Upon getting the news that it's terminal, he seeks out the assistance of a doctor's experimental new treatment-A full head transplant.  Uncaring of the human cost, Broussard is determined to take someone else's head to be his own. However, he won't resort to murder, but graverobbing, for the head Broussard seeks is that of Nostradamus himself...

The Man Without a Body is a lot more interesting on paper than it actually is in practice, but boring moments aside, this is still a wacked-out picture! Any film with a plotline involving resurrecting the severed head of Nostradamus in order to gain eternal youth is sure to have at least something to recommend it! Like when Nostradamus, in an effort to destroy his enemy and save his skin, gives Broussard bad financial/stock market advice and bankrupts him!

Bizarre elements aside, the story is mostly ok up to a certain point, except for one major problem. If Broussard gets a head or brain transplant, he'll still be dead. Even if he can condition this new brain into thinking it's him, it's not, and he'll still die. It gets even sillier when you see that Broussard's method of mental transference involves telling Nostradamus the basic cliffnotes of his life! I could buy a knowledge swap if the doctor had a weird mind melding machine, but this is a bridge way too far, though it's certainly enough to make you chuckle!

All of this culminates in a pretty unsatisfying ending. Even the villain's death isn't that long or impressive. It happens in a split second then is basically ignored from then on. The inclusion of a borderline Frankenstein monster feels a bit tacked on too

The effects aren't that great. The movie doesn't really have much excuse for cheap effects either when the majority of what happens is people talking in laboratories or offices. The head looks waxy and fake, which I think might be the point, though I'm not sure. The monster at the end though just looks pretty ridiculous, like he's got a refrigerator balancing on his head.

The acting is tolerable at best. Not many bad performances, but they're mediocre all round. Even George Coulouris doesn't get much chance to shine in what's basically a leading role. His sometimes erratic nature comes off more like a random crazy person than a proper villain. I suppose that could certainly work, depending on the story, but I'm not sure if it does here, and again, it's not helped/supported by the acting.

If nothing else, this film is pretty short, at barely over an hour. This doesn't save the production from being a tad boring in places, but I was a lot less annoyed than I would've been if this was a full hour-and-a-half, or longer, god forbid. The Man Without a Body is a strange picture to watch, and those qualities are the only thing saving it from being ignored. While I didn't care for the finished product, I still applaud the mad level of creativity that went into this film!...

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