The Brain Machine (1955) Poster

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Weird promotion
kmoh-116 December 2006
The most bizarre aspect of this competent minor British kidnap thriller is its completely inappropriate packaging as science fiction. The 'Brain Machine' of the title refers to an electroencephalograph which is used by psychologists to identify brainwave patterns characteristic of psychotics. That is indeed a futuristic concept, but the eponymous machine actually only features in the first ten minutes or so. The title sequence is very techy, and the theme tune is the same as the TV serial version of 'Quatermass and the Pit'. Indeed, the opening scene, where the brain machine is introduced to us, is highly reminiscent of scenes in Quatermass, 'X the Unknown' and similar pictures. But after that, the whole thing settles down into thriller mode, with a traditional nick o' time climax. Enjoyable, but misleading.
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Neat British film noir.
ronevickers15 February 2008
After a science-fiction type opening, the film develops into a neat and engrossing little thriller, with lively playing by the leads. The central performance of the much underrated Maxwell Reed is especially noteworthy, and the film is all the more impressive for his presence. In fact, was there anyone better in this type of role, in British cinema, during that particular time? It is also interesting, for its time, in that there is a distinct undercurrent of attraction for Reed's character, Frank Smith, by Dr Roberts (Elizabeth Allan) which is clearly magnified during the closing scene of the film when her estranged husband Dr Allen (Patrick Barr) is also present. All-in-all an enjoyable little thriller which, although rarely screened, is well worth catching.
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A Dated Psychological Thriller, Which Isn't Too Bad.
stephenabell17 January 2018
To watch this film you have to remember it's set in the '50's and the idea at the start of the picture was revolutionary. Using an ECG a couple of doctors are able to diagnose a person's mental health. On one occasion they bring in a deranged killer to get a reading. Then later, they have an accident victim who they scan for brain damage. upon checking his scan they see he has some alarming similarities with the killer. Before they can question him he leaves the hospital. The story then starts to take a weaving path to its conclusion.

It's this path that makes the movie watchable as you wonder what's happening and what will happen next. It's the pace of the movie and the acting which hinder the movie somewhat. The bad guy, Frank Smith (Maxwell Reed) just doesn't have the aura of a psychopathic madman - he sure does know how to shout though. It would have been a lot better had he run a gamut of emotions to show his mental breakdown.

I also liked the fact that the female Doctor Philippa Roberts (Elizabeth Allan) is a strong woman that knows and says her mind. Unfortunately, she loses this confidence when she is kidnapped by Smith. Again, this would have been great had she retained this and not regressed into screaming woman. But this was made in the '50's so has their ideals.

I reckon this story would still make a good movie today, even a great one if the issues are addressed as I can still see the issues used in the story being relevant today.

If you like your old black and white mysteries, then you may like this. But be aware, this is not the best of it's kind. Definitely, one to watch when sick in bed... though remember to keep the remote handy for when things get shouty.
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Exploitative title
malcolmgsw5 March 2017
One can only assume that the distributors,RKO Teleradio Pictures,wanted to utilise some of the success enjoyed by The Quatermass Experiment by tacking on a 10 minute sequences at the beginning which justify the use of a title which really hasn't got anything to do with the rest of the film.Elizabeth Allen plays the leading role and is clearly not a woman to be tricked with.In real life she sued MGM because they took away from her the leading roles in The Citadel and Goodbye Mr Chips.She lost on appeal and never worked in Hollywood again.The film develops as a routine crime film.However Maxwelo Reed has an intriguing revolver which fires 12 times without reloading.
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Well-crafted British thriller
Leofwine_draca24 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
THE BRAIN MACHINE is actually the second film I've seen with this title; the first was a rubbishy 1977 US science fiction film about a computer experiment gone wrong. Despite the title, this BRAIN MACHINE is in fact an above-average British thriller with film noir aspects. The title refers to a brain scan being conducted in the opening twenty minutes, but this merely sets up the plot and doesn't feature for the rest of the more traditional story.

Underrated character actor Patrick Barr tackles a lead role for once, playing a doctor hunting for his wife who has been kidnapped by a desperate small time criminal, played by Joan Collins's husband Maxwell Reed. Elizabeth Allan gives a fine performance as the wife in peril, coolly holding it together during the more difficult moments, even if her character doesn't take advantage of her situation and is content to go along with things when she has the opportunity to escape at times.

This low budget tale is well paced and has a solid script that brings to life various supporting characters. Familiar faces like Bill Nagy and a youthful Anthony Valentine show up along the way, and there's plenty of murderous twists and even the odd bit of action to keep the story moving along nicely. I enjoyed it.
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If you hadn't scored by the second movie you didn't care anyway
dsewizzrd-19 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
The brain machine is an electro-encephalograph, and its only role in this dusty, melodramatic police-murder film of the Z Cars variety is to implicate a man with homicidal tendencies. He then kidnaps a female psychiatrist, which obviously makes his legal position far worse. Imprisoned in a not really impregnable shed under a train line, she discovers he is dealing in cortisone - for the valuable foreign trade apparently, well they get sand in their undies in the Italian lidos don't they, and that's quite likely to cause a skin irritation. There's lots of shiny new cars driven slowly and carefully, with the villains in a large French saloon - the very epitome of deviance. Strictly for ITV, and not for those who think too much.
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Warning: Possible Brain Cell Damage!
spookyrat14 February 2019
EEG machines had been used on humans for around 30 years, when this mixed up little film was made. I'm sure they weren't that well-known then and thus for many, a futuristic concept, through which a convoluted thriller might just have its genesis. With the benefit of almost 65 years of hindsight, the whole thing now does look somewhat dated and a bit silly.

For the first half of this film, I had high hopes the Elizabeth Allan female doctor would surprisingly prove to be the dominant character and a heroine in her own right. But half way through, she sadly just becomes another damsel in distress who needs to be rescued by her estranged and rather boring husband. For this to occur, we have to suspend disbelief, that: (a) He wouldn't share any of the information he receives about his wife's kidnapping with the police (Even though another character asks him this question, which he essentially ignores). (b) The police with their resources wouldn't get that information any way.

It's a movie like that; starting out somewhat intriguingly in the first act, but rapidly running out of any original ideas and common sense and happy to slip back into very pedestrian predictability, from which it never recovers. Overall, we are left feeling that The Brain Machine has short circuited out well before the intended climax.
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