Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sci-Fi On Film & The World Of 1954

Main Events Of 1954

Newsreel 1954

Innovation, Science & Technology

  • The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, is launched 
  • Hydrogen bomb test “Castle Bravo” has been conducted on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. 
  • RCA manufactures the first colour TV set which has a 12-inch screen and is priced at $1,000 
  • The world's first atomic power station opens at Obninsk, near Moscow. 
  • The Soviet Union test fires a thermonuclear bomb for the first time. 
  • Texas Instruments announces the development of the first commercial transistor radio. 
  • The TV dinner is introduced by the American entrepreneur Gerry Thomas. 
  •  Hartwell Harrison, and Joseph Murray perform the world's first successful kidney transplant in Boston, Massachusetts.

International Affairs


  • U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower authorizes $385 million, over the $400 million already budgeted, for military aid to Vietnam and warns against United States intervention in Vietnam. 
  • In Vietnam, French troops begin the battle against the Viet Minh in Dien Bien Phu. 
  • The Viet Minh capture the main airstrip of Dien Bien Phu which almost isolates the remaining French Army units there. 
  • Vice President Richard Nixon announces that the United States may place troops in Indochina “regardless of Allied support.” 
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles accuses Communist China of sending combat troops to Indo-China to train the Viet Minh guerrillas. 
  • The "domino theory" is outlined in a speech by Dwight D. Eisenhower, later to be used as a justification for US military intervention in South East Asia 
  • The Battle of Dien Bien Phu ends in a French defeat. 
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles declares that Indochina is not essential to the security of Southeast Asia, thereby removing the likelihood of American intervention on the side of France. 
  • In what is called the ‘First Indochina War,’ the Geneva Conference results in French forces being sent to the south of a ceasefire line, with Vietnamese forces to be located to the north. Elections are called to decide the government for all of Vietnam by July 1956. The failure of this agreement leads to the establishment de facto of regimes of North Vietnam and South Vietnam, and the start of the ‘Vietnam War.’ The Viet Minh takes control of North Vietnam. In South Vietnam, the Viet Minh is reorganised into the Viet Cong. 
  • The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) is established, which has implications for Australia’s eventual involvement in the Vietnam War.

(Cold War & International Relations) 

  • The Soviet Union recognises the sovereignty of East Germany and Soviet troops remain in the country. 
  • Vladimir Petrov defects from the Soviet Union and asks for political asylum in Australia. 
  • The Royal Commission on the Petrov Affair in Australia begins its inquiry. 
  • A Soviet spy ring in Australia is unveiled 
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy begins hearings investigating the United States Army for being "soft" on Communism. 
  • The United States Senate condemns Joseph McCarthy for "conduct that tends to bring the Senate into dishonour and disrepute." 
  • West Germany joins NATO. 
  • The CIA orchestrates a military coup in Guatemala. Guatemalan President Jacobo Árbenz steps down as a result of this CIA-sponsored coup, which ushers in a bloody civil war that endures for more than 35 years.

(Other International Events) 

  • Muslim Brotherhood member Mahmoud Abdul Latif tries to kill Gamal Abdel Nasser. 
  • Algerian War of Independence begins in which the Algerian National Liberation Front begins a revolt against French rule. 
  • Egyptian president Mohammed Naguib is deposed, and replaced by Gamal Abdel Nasser. 
  • The Korean Cold War between the North and the South begins over a year after the conclusion of the Korean War and lasts to the present day (2013) with both sides still technically at war as no peace treaty has been signed. 
  • Laos gains full independence from France.

Popular Culture

  • Bill Haley & His Comets record "Rock Around The Clock" and Rock and Roll is launched. 
  • William Golding's novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ is published 
  • The first Godzilla film premieres in Tokyo.

Top Movies include;

  • White Christmas 
  • The Caine Mutiny 
  • The Egyptian 
  • Rear Window 
  • Three Coins in the Fountain

Popular TV Shows include;

  • I Love Lucy 
  • The Jackie Gleason Show 
  • Dragnet 
  • Disneyland 
  • The Jack Benny Show

Popular Music included songs like;

  • Mr Sandman by The Chordettes 
  • Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream) by The Crew-Cuts 
  • Shake Rattle and Roll by Bill Haley and The Comets 
  • Cry by Johnny Ray 
  • Three Coins In The Fountain by The Four Aces 
  • Oh! My Papa by Eddie Fisher


  • Roger Bannister runs the first sub-four minute mile, in Oxford, England.


  • Marilyn Monroe marries baseball player Joe DiMaggio

1954: An Overview

The economy continued to grow, the ‘Baby Boom’ was well underway and more wives began moving back into the workforce. The Dow Jones Industrial average rose 3.27 points, or 0.86 percent and closed at an all-time high of 382.74, surpassing for the first time its peak level prior to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. In the US gas cost 22- 29 cents per gallon, the annual inflation rate in the US was 0.32%, the average cost of a new house was $10.250.00 and a new car would set you back $1,700.00.

1954 (and much of the decade) was a time of prosperity indicated by such things as car ownership. Of course more highways were built to cater for the increase in car ownership. The era of the modern shopping mall had arrived together with the demise of the small town as these new highways tended to by-pass such towns.

Television programmes included "Father Knows Best” and two of the most popular movies, “On The Waterfront" and "The Wild One" were screened. Rock ‘n Roll blasted on to the scene with the song “Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley and the Comets which featured in the Movie “Blackboard Jungle" And of course, Elvis Presley cut his first commercial record.

At this time the first mass vaccination of children against polio began and segregation in US Public Schools was ruled to be unconstitutional.

Conservatism and anti-Communist sentiment was quite prevalent throughout much of society in the US. Gender roles were clearly defined and clothing was conservative with men wearing grey flannel suits while women wore dresses with pinched in waists and high heels. It was a time just when society was recovering from World War II, when the Cold War with the USSR was well underway and the effects of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s paranoid anti-Communist witch hunts were being felt in the United States.

The winds of change, however, were continuing to blow with increased questioning of the need to conform and the nature of American values. More individualistic and anti-establishment feelings were coming to the surface with the creation of a new generation called “teenagers.” Young people began to set about breaking free of the constraints of mainstream, conservative, middle class values. American Bandstand, rock ‘n roll, hula hoops, blue jeans, poodle skirts, pony tails for girls, flat tops and crew cuts for guys, saddle shoes and blue suede loafers were symbols that set a generation apart from the stifling constraints of the established order of things around them. The door was opening ever wider into a counter culture that would eventually consist of rockers, teddy boys, bodgies and widgies, A new growing movement of musicians, writers and poets of the Beat generation were also set to chip away at the flaking walls of the Establishment edifice and the conventions and values of their parents’ generation.

And where could we find this new generation of teenagers when they managed to get away from their parents? At the drive-in movies which became popular but which these days have almost become extinct in most places of the world. And how did they get there? Why, in the new symbol of freedom and coolness: cars, of course.

At this time television was becoming the dominant form of mass media. Teenagers were watching a greater number of hours per week of TV than ever before. An idealized view of life tended to be portrayed by this new medium. There was entertainment to be enjoyed with shows like “The Honeymooners,” “Father Knows Best,” “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and “I Love Lucy.” The era of the sit-com had arrived. There was also far more information about what was happening in the world with the use of video-taped pictures, coaxial cable, microwave relays and live broadcasts bringing events into people’s living rooms not long after or as soon as they happened.

In 1954, color TV broadcasts began to replace black and white broadcasts. Since people could now get their entertainment and news right there in their own living rooms, traditional print news media and entertainment media suffered a decline in much the same way that the internet and social media of today has been having an impact on the more traditional forms of entertainment and news media. Then, as now, it is either a case of adapt to changing circumstances or become extinct.

So what of Science Fiction film-making? In Sylacauga, Alabama, a four-kilogram piece of the Hodges Meteorite crashed through the roof of a house and badly bruised a woman. It was the first documented case of an “assault” on a human being from outer space. But that fact didn’t stop 1954 turning out to be another great year for science fiction movies featuring an array of alien life forms, an armada of alien space craft and intrepid human beings bravely going where mostly no men and even fewer women had gone before. And as was the case in previous years, strange things seemed to be happening in our skies……… 

If you enjoyed the journey through the sci-fi film offerings of 1953, then you’ll love what the year 1954 has in store for you. Here are some of the sci-fi films from 1954 that will be featured in this blog; 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Four Sided Triangle (1953)

A thought-provoking and engaging film despite its low budget constraints and disappointing ending.

Director: Terence Fisher
Producer: Michael Carreras, Alexander Paal
Written by Paul Tabori
Based on William F. Temple’s novel
Music: Malcolm Arnold
Cinematography: Reg Wyer
Editing: Maurice Rootes
Studio: Hammer Film Productions
Running time: 81 minutes


Barbara Payton: (Lena Maitland/Helen) 
James Hayter: (Dr. Harvey)
Stephen Murray (Bill Leggat)
John Van Eyssen: (Robin Grant)
Percy Marmont: (Sir Walter)
Glyn Dearman: (Bill as a child)
Sean Barrett: (Robin as a child)
Jennifer Dearman: (Lena as a child)
Kynaston Reeves: (Lord Grant)
John Stuart: (Solicitor)
Edith Saville: (Lady Grant)


Four Sided Triangle is a story involving a love triangle which soon develops into a four sided love triangle with the addition of a complicating fourth side. The film is in the tradition of Frankenstein-type films in which a man almost takes on the role of God and creates life with terrible consequences for himself and those around him.

Cloning Clip

Warning: Spoilers Follow below

Preparing The Ground For Planting

Four Sided Triangle opens with credits behind which we see a pan of the English countryside. This is followed by a title card with gothic lettering proclaiming, "'God hath made man upright; but they have sought out too many inventions.'- Ecclesiastes." 

We immediately know from this opening that whatever takes place will involve something deemed to be ‘unholy,’ as being against God’s intention and somehow immoral.

The story of Four Sided Triangle begins with Dr. Harvey ("Doc") narrating about the events that that occurred in the peaceful village of Hardine (Hardeen?) The shots we have of the village confirm that it is a place where nothing much happens. ‘Grant House,’ or the Manor exudes pride and tradition. The sleepy village has a local squire, Sir Walter who has a son named Robin. There's a woman whose husband is a drunk and they have a son called Bill. Doc Harvey addresses us directly and reinforces the impression that nothing interesting happens in his village, except for………….a burnt out barn.... 

By setting the story of ‘Four Sided Triangle’ in a sleepy little village, a stark contrast is provided between the timeless, traditional rural lifestyle and the modern high tech world that exists beyond the little village’s rustic confines. The intrusion of scientific advancement will soon turn the placid certainties of life upside down, leading to tragedy as indicated by the out of place burnt out barn. It may indeed presage a time when they will have “pity for the living” and “envy for the dead.”

Seeds Are Sewn

We are given a flashback to a time when. Bill and Robin are boyhood friends who compete for the affections of an eleven year old girl called Lena. She's sitting on a makeshift throne of hay bales, wearing a crown. Two boys, Sir Robin and Sir Bill, are armed with wooden swords. Lena addresses them and declares they must fight for her affections by duelling with the swords. Robin eventually beats Bill, who yields. Lena places a laurel wreath on Robin's head while Bill receives an oak leaf crown. Bill, the “defeated knight,” kisses her hand, and then runs away, obviously upset at losing out. 

This flashback is important as it shows us some of the “material that fate furnished for the four-sided triangle.” 

We gain the impression from Doc’s narration that Robin is level-headed and dependable while Bill is more spirited and impetuous. In fact, Bill is also a genius, but in a frightening sort of way. This is highlighted by his correct diagnosis and explanation of the simple fracture to his wrist, his rapid intellectual outpacing of Doc Harvey and his wild and unpredictable manner. 

Nurturing & Husbandry

 Doc eventually takes in Bill as an informal student and later he becomes his guardian when Bill's mother dies. Lena's mother takes her back to America and when the boys are older they go to Cambridge to study science. 

It is apparent that Bill seems “born to do great things,” but it has to be wondered how much direction Doc Harvey provided to Bill’s upbringing. He certainly provided Bill with encouragement in relation to his intellectual pursuits and natural curiosity. However, how often did he say “No” to Bill? Were boundaries ever set for Bill? While Bill’s intellect and material needs were being catered for, how much attention was given to his ethical and moral development? As we see throughout the movie, Doc Harvey acquiesces to just about every request that Bill makes of him. A certain amount of personal self-discipline and responsibility is essential in any well-rounded adult, no matter how much of a genius they are purported to be. 

Bearing Fruit

Lena returns one day as an adult but she has had a tough time. Her mother has died and she is very pessimistic, even to the extent of declaring that she didn't ask to be born and so she has a right to die. Lena blames herself for all that has happened. 

Robin and Bill have also returned and they have been working on an invention called the ‘Reproducer’, a machine that can exactly duplicate physical objects. After Doc and Lena go to the barn to see the two young men, Doc suggests to Lena that they need someone (her) to keep them human. 

When Robin and Doc go see Lord Grant to obtain more funding so they can keep working on their project, Lord Grant refuses their request because the work hasn’t produced any results. In keeping with his character and relationship with Bill, Doc goes to see Simpson the solicitor to sell his practice for the much needed finance. 

Back at the barn-lab, Bill and Eric have acquired some impressive pieces of equipment. 

The equipment in the barn-lab looks quite convincing, much of it consisting of what appears to be comfortably familiar army surplus pieces. There’s nothing better than oscilloscopes indicating whatever we are told they’re indicating; big gauges with jittery needles; transparent domes containing something sinister or from which something ‘not good’ will emerge; insistent flashing lights; and big tactile knobs and switches that seem to take the exertion of the whole body to activate. The world of the mad scientist and Frankenstein’s monster is never far away no matter what era we live in. 

Which leads us to the question that is inevitably asked: What exactly is the contraption that Bill and Robin have been working on? They can give it a name, ‘Reproducer.’ However, they suggest that it'd be far too technical to explain. Plank, Einstein and Faraday are mentioned as the scientific foundation on which the Reproducer device has been built.

Bill and Robin manage to duplicate Doc’s pocket watch and chain which materialises in the second display case. The second watch is an exact replica of the original watch even down to its FLAWS: one of the links being bent in exactly the same way as the original chain. 

Bill explains that they've found a way to create matter from energy, a reverse of the familiar principle of creating energy (movement, force) from matter. With their device they can reproduce anything. Lena suggests that they could reproduce precious metals and diamonds while Robin suggests that works of art could be created. 

Here we have the unfolding example of the kind of dilemma that humanity is faced with: practical applications of scientific theoretical concepts and whether they are for good or for ill. For instance, an equation leads to the splitting of the atom, which then leads to the development of atomic weapons that could result in the destruction of the world. Then again that same form of power can generate electricity and aid in medical treatments. In the film, ‘Four-Sided Triangle,’ the ‘boys’ have built their device using principles developed by the pioneers of physics. They did it because they wanted to see if they could do it and they could. Only now do they turn their minds to what their discovery could be used for. Perhaps, as in the case of many scientific breakthroughs, they needed to rethink the steps in the process. Just about anything conceived of by the mind of “Man” will amount to becoming a double-edged sword containing any number of unforeseen implications and consequences.

Later, the process is repeated in the presence of Sir Walter using a blank cheque which has been endorsed on the back. The result? Two identical cheques! Bill declared that they're not in the forgery business, but the fact that it can potentially be done raises some interesting implications. Sir Walter himself raises some potentially dangerous consequences that could result from the new invention such as atom bombs and guns possibly being reproduced. 

Yes, a universal duplicator could make readily available what was previously in short supply such as vital organs for transplant that would not be rejected by the recipient’s body. We could potentially have a world like the one envisioned in ‘Star Trek’ where all our material needs could be replicated in a world which is “a place of peace and plenty” But life is not a TV sci-fi utopia. There’s a price to be paid. Reproduce works of art for everybody? Sure! Reproduce gold and other precious metals? Sure! See how fast both of these would lose their respective values. What would happen to economies that depend on precious metals? How would you stop countries and terrorist groups from endlessly reproducing the means to destroy their perceived enemies? 

Be careful what you wish for, you may get much more than you bargained for…….. 

As Bill is to find out when he admits to Doc that he wants Lena. He's never told her how he feels and he asks Doc to probe her. There is no surprise considering Doc’s track record that he doesn’t refuse and tell Bill to just be a man and find out for himself by telling Lena how he feels.

Reap What You Sow

 Bill is becoming bored with their new invention and wants to start on something else, whereas Robin wants him to focus on what they've achieved in creating “something for all mankind” and how it could in Sir Walter’s words, “transform the world into a place of peace and plenty.” 

Later, at the dinner party, Sir Walter makes a speech in which he states that “I had faith” thereby conveying the impression that it was he who saw the potential of the invention. Next comes the issue of who controls the use and implementation of the new device. Bill and Robin are informed that the government will let them do whatever they want but that they are to place the blueprints for their invention under government control. The two inventors are to be stationed in London.

A major complication in the story occurs when Bill is confronted by the fact that Lena loves Robin and intends to marry him. His desire for what he now knows he cannot have leads him to make decisions involving his invention which will have far-reaching consequences for himself and others. 

Based on an earlier consideration of how far could they could take the Reproducer, the possibility of duplicating living things occurred to the two young men. It would be necessary to pass a great deal of current through the original living thing, thereby causing it considerable pain. Robin didn't want to proceed with it. Bill, however, came up with the idea of doping the animal first. A week previously, this was tried on a guinea pig it with positive results once the dope wore off. Unfortunately, the duplicate didn't live. 

Bill came up with his own “autojector” which would pump the blood of the duplicate animal while waiting for the heart to start. The process is soon used on a rabbit with success and it doesn’t take much of stretch of the imagination on the part of the audience or Doc to predict what Bill intends to do with his new duplication process. 

Bill knows that it is too late to late to win Lena for himself when Lena marries Robin, He therefore sets about to convince Lena to allow him to duplicate her, so that he can at least have a copy of her for himself. 

Here we see a man being driven by a force he couldn’t control. As we see Bill operating the equipment, the effect of light and shade on his face reminds us of the classic mad scientist films in which the mad scientist is impelled by his hubris and personal desires to make an unethical and immoral decision and to embark upon a course of action involving an irresponsible use of his new-found power that results in tragedy. Aren’t we all at some level subject to the force of our own wants and desires, often resulting not in the obtaining of happiness and fulfilment, but instead in personal unhappiness and misery?

Using a larger version of the autojector, the duplication process is performed on Lena. 

A very effective use of close-ups of the characters’ faces, along with musical cues during the lengthy duplication process adds to the dramatic impact of these scenes. Notice also that when a pair of spikes is pushed into the duplicate woman's neck, we are not shown the actual insertion. Instead, this part of the process is suggested or indicated by the use of a high, sustained musical cue thereby heightening the emotional impact of what we can imagine what is happening. 

The experiment is a “success.” Bill has his Lena and by a recombination of the letters of her name the duplicate Lena is named, “Helen." HOWEVER it soon transpires that Helen, is such an exact copy of Lena that she also loves Robin, not Bill! 

While on holiday with Bill, Helen appears to be increasingly distracted and silent. One morning when Bill opens the curtains in her room, as she is waking up she says by mistake, “Robin darling.” Later, while on a beach-side picnic, Helen goes for a swim and keeps on swimming further and further away from the beach until Bill swims out and saves her. It is apparent that she was trying to kill herself. 

Helen’s inner-struggles with her sense of self and Bill’s attempt to deal with this provide the viewer with finely acted drama. Helen’s torture is laid bare as she comes to the realisation that she does not have her own identity. She is in love with Robin only because her duplicate loves him. All that she is consists of what Lena was before she married Robin. 

Bill tells Doc that he only wanted two things in life, namely, knowledge and Lena. He used the knowledge he gained in order to obtain the object of his personal happiness, Lena. The result was unhappiness and misery as we now have two women who love the same man, and one of those women was ready to end her own life rather than live without Robin or live a life not of her own making. With this in mind, Lena’s words come back to haunt us, “I didn’t ask to be born; I have the right to die.”

Bill resorts to a radical experiment in order to make things right. With Lena’s help he uses a process that employs electro-shock treatment to erase Helen's memory. Just as the process appears to be working, the apparatus begins to overheat, smoke and then explodes, resulting in an intense fire. 

Meanwhile, Robin arrives with Dr. Harvey to see the whole barn in flames and manages to rescue one of the women from the fire. Bill and the other woman perish in the conflagration. 

As the woman who was rescued has no memory, there is some uncertainty as to which woman, Lena or Helen, was saved. However, Dr. Harvey recalled that Bill had to start Helen's heart with a device that he attached to the back of her neck which left two scars. It turned out that there were no marks on the neck of the woman who was rescued. Of course it was….. Lena! 

Four-Sided Triangle ends with a gothic script title card: 

"'You shall have joy or you shall have power, said God; you shall not have both' - Emerson"

How much better it would have been had the film had a more dramatic ending whereby we could have been left guessing much longer as to who the surviving woman was? Imagine the possibilities if the duplication process hadn’t left any scarring and may or may not have worked? With a fade out on an enigmatic expression on the woman’s face, could we have had the possibility of a Helen living out Lena’s life?

As to possiblities? Well, someone a few years later thought about what would happen if you combined a human being AND a fly in a duplicating machine! But that’s the subject for a future post……

©Chris Christopoulos 2013

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Donovan's Brain (1953)

A solid science fiction film containing elements of horror in the tradition of Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. A refreshing departure from the typical 1950s era mutant monsters and alien invaders style of film.

Director: Felix E. Feist
Producer: by Allan Dowling, Tom Gries
Adapted from: Curt Siodmak’s 1942 novel
Adaptation: Hugh Brooke
Screenplay: Felix E. Feist
Music: Eddie Dunstedter
Cinematography: Joseph F. Biroc
Editing: Herbert L. Strock
Studio: Dowling Productions
Distributor: United Artists
Running time: 83 minutes


Lew Ayres: Dr. Patrick J. Cory
Gene Evans: Dr. Frank Schratt
Nancy Reagan: Janice Cory (as Nancy Davis)
Steve Brodie: Herbie Yocum
Tom Powers: Donovan's Washington Advisor
Lisa Howard: Chloe Donovan (as Lisa K. Howard)
James Anderson: Chief Tuttle (as Kyle James)
Victor Sutherland: Nathaniel Fuller
Michael Colgan: Tom Donovan
Peter Adams: Mr. Webster
Harlan Warde: Treasury Agent Brooke
Shmen Ruskin: Tailor
Don Brodie: Detective Who Follows Dr. Cory from Hotel
William Cottrell: Dr. Crane
John Hamilton: Mr. MacNish, Bank Manager
Sam Harris: Man leaving Fuller's Office
Paul Hoffman: Mr. Smith, Treasury Dept.
Stapleton Kent: W. J. Higgins
Faith Langley : Fuller's Receptionist
Mark Lowell : Allied Supply Clerk
Frank McClure: Man leaving Fuller's Office
Walter Merrill: Town House Desk Clerk
Charles Sullivan: Auto Passenger at Accident Scene
Max Wagner: Station Agent


Donovan's Brain 1950s Suspense Radio Play

Donovan’s Brain is the kind of film that under other circumstances could allow the viewer’s attention to wander. However, the good performances of Lew Ayers as the possessed Dr. Cory and Gene Evans as Dr. Frank Schratt add significantly to the film’s appeal.

Lew Ayers played both "minds" extraordinarily well with his seamless shifting from mild-mannered researcher Cory to the despicable Donovan. Without any overt fanfare or unnecessary special effects, we know when Donovan’s brain takes control simply by the controlled and subtle nuances of Lew Ayres’ performance such as a mere in change of posture or a hardening of his expression.

Another example of the film’s subtle communication with the audience is the scene with Herbie Yocum when he confronts Cory/Donovan for a blackmail payment. Notice that he is wearing a shabby and worn out suit. When he later returns for another blackmail payment, he is seen wearing a pretty sharp and expensive-looking suit. No need for any lengthy explanations!

Donovan’s Brain is still a very relevant film as it reminds people of any era that there is a cost to any aspect of human progress. The question is; is it a cost we would wish to bear even if we go into it with our eyes open?


  • Donovan’s Brain is a film about Dr. Patrick Cory, a middle-aged physician who experiments at keeping a brain alive. 
  • A millionaire by the name of W.H. Donovan crashes his private plane in the desert near the home of Dr. Cory. 
  • Dr. Cory is unable to save Donovan's life, but removes his brain in the slim hope that it might survive. He places Donovan’s Brain in an electrically charged, oxygenated saline solution within a glass tank. 
  • The brainwaves suggest that thought and life continue and Cory makes several unsuccessful attempts to communicate with the brain. 
  • Finally, one night Cory receives unconscious commands and he writes down an instruction containing people’s names in Donovan's handwriting. 
  • Cory successfully establishes telepathic contact with Donovan's brain, much to the concern of Cory's alcoholic assistant, Dr. Schratt. 
  • Gradually, the malignant intelligence of Donovan takes over Cory's personality and uses Cory to do his bidding such as signing checks in Donovan's name, and continuing the reprehensible millionaire magnate's illicit financial activities. 
  • Cory becomes increasingly mentally and physically like Donovan himself, even down to his limping.

How far will Donovan's criminality extend?

Will Donovan assume complete control over Cory’s mind and body?

Can Cory find a way to resist the brain's power? 

Can Cory do anything to destroy the brain?

Witness the unfolding terror of humanity’s struggle against the self-destructive and unforeseen consequences of its own genius!

Donovan’s Brain:

A What If? Alternate Reality

For the whole world, everything changed in the latter part of the 21st. Century.The year now is 2153 and unimaginable advances have been made in the fields of science, technology and communications. One advance in particular that is the subject of this narrative concerns the preservation of human consciousness after physical death. People now have the option to continue their existence over and over as many times as they wish within their own unique virtual world. Virtual immortality! It is where we find ourselves now at the Cory Human Consciousness Afterlife Exhibition Building, standing immersed within an exhibit dedicated to the history and development of this once controversial technology.

Exhibit Guide: Welcome everyone to our interactive exhibit which we are sure you’ll find to be both informative but also entertaining. Please be patient as you download the virtual component of this exhibit into your NCSDs (Nano cerebral storage devices). Once this is done, you can transition instantly between the real-time and virtual parts of the exhibit.

As you are aware, in the middle of the 20th century when the United States of America began its 90 year long period as a world super-power, the first steps toward the preservation of human consciousness were being taken.

You should now be able to see reconjec-images (reconstructed and manipulated) based on actual photographs of Dr. Patrick J. Cory, his wife Janice Cory and a map showing Green Valley, AZ, USA. Images and graphics will appear to you throughout the presentation. Of course, a lot of what you will see will be based on conjecture and interpretation for your viewing benefit and understanding. 

It was with the little monkey that the Cory’s brought home with them that they hoped to extract its brain and keep it alive, since four previous attempts on older subjects resulted in failure. With the assistance of Dr. Frank Schratt, they placed the monkey brain in a large tank and hooked it up to support equipment. At first there was no activity so they increased the voltage and a strong alpha wave appeared and remained steady. 

We are fortunate to have here the very notes Cory’s wife took as her husband dictated the details of the procedure. Not only that, but we have another primary source in the form of Dr. Cory’s very own diary to help us understand this very important period of time in human history. Please feel free to browse the physical exhibits during this presentation.

As fate would have it, Dr. Cory was at that point called away to help out at an airplane crash. One body was carried away from the smoking wreckage on a stretcher and conveyed to Cory's house which had its own lab with a fully equipped operating room.

As you can see from Cory’s diary he was told that Warren H. Donovan was supposed to have been worth a hundred million dollars and that the sky would be the limit on his fee.

Question Upload From Exhibit Visitor: Did the prospect of making money influence Cory at any stage of his research?

Exhibit Guide: I’ll answer this and further questions orally if that’s OK with everyone. You’ll still be able to access any question from your fellow visitors.

Cory lived in a time when making personal wealth almost defined who a person was. Donovan was one of the worst examples of this. Initially, Cory just wanted to save a human life, no matter who he was. I suppose Cory’s motivation later was to see if keeping a human brain alive could be done and how that could add to the sum of our scientific knowledge. It was the pioneering experiment and the discovery that mattered above all else. As it turned out, and unforeseen by Cory, more than just keeping the human brain alive was the result of Cory’s experimentation.

As a result of the accident, Donovan had lost both legs and his chest was crushed. While Cory and Schratt operated, his pulse stopped. Incidentally, what we know about Dr. Frank Schratt is that he was a practicing physician, but he was also an alcoholic.

Amazingly, alpha waves were found to be present on the recently deceased Mr. Donovan. Cory decided to try and talk Frank Schratt into helping him remove Donovan's brain. Frank and Janice were horrified at such a prospect as it was against the law, and he could’ve lost his medical license. Janice had told Cory more than once, that he was carrying things too far. However, Cory got his way by explaining that, [from diary] "If this brain lives, maybe we can discover how it thinks.” With such research, it would, according to Cory, hold out the possibility of a cure “for Frank and every other alcoholic.”

Question Upload: If his wife raised objections and the procedure would’ve had such drastic personal and legal ramifications, then why did he proceed with it?

Exhibit Guide: As with the early development of genetic engineering and human cloning, there were laws preventing scientific pursuits such as that undertaken by Cory. Objections were raised by ethics committees and religious denominations as to the moral implications of such research. Public opinion was strongly against it-for a while at least. Signs and banners, as well as various forms of social media of the time containing messages such as, “What about the human soul?” “Unnatural & Unholy” and “We are not God!” greeted the first proposals for preserving human consciousness. Remember, Cory was attempting and succeeded in preserving a human brain. Even his friend Frank suggested to Cory that he was really “looking for the soul” and that he was “trying to play God.” Interestingly enough, there’s an entry in Cory’s diary in which he states, “I couldn’t have gotten this far without God’s help.”

Advances in technology have progressed since those times, thereby negating the need for hanging on to that portion of our biology, since we now understand most of the workings of the human brain and we can now extract, preserve and transfer its consciousness. Once the technology advances and a few independent or even rogue researchers, organisations and governments undertake once previously taboo forms of research, the door is inevitably opened up a bit wider. The once unacceptable soon becomes the accepted and established way of doing things. Questions of morality become just that little bit more blurred.

Questions of ethics and morality were evident when Cory assured Donovan's son and daughter, Chloe and Tom that everything possible was done for their father, except for the fact that he had taken his brain. Cory had to add this deception to his moral, ethical and professional misconduct. Yes indeed, there are consequences, foreseen and unforeseen, in most human undertakings.

A certain individual by the name of Herbie Yocum, a freelance photographer who was following Donovan's death, had already visited the morgue and noticed that Donovan had stitches in his head, even though the plane crash injuries did not involve his head. Cory eventually agreed to Yocum's request to take his pictures of the operating table. While doing this, he covertly took a picture of the tank with Donovan's brain. In those days representatives of the media called journalists actually did investigative work in person out in the field. Unfortunately over time the mass media degenerated to being purveyors of propaganda and editorial mouth-pieces of their influential owners. The real work of informing the public was done by individual and organisational whistle-blowers. These days we rely more on remote tech surveillance and citizen reporters who operate on an almost freelance basis like Yocum.

I also refer you all to the link to the draft copy of Yocum’s article, DEAD MAN’S LIVING BRAIN!” This would have appeared in what was called a newspaper which was actually made out of paper. A far cry from the plethora of sources of news and information which we can access 


Over time Donovan’s brain started to respond to outside stimuli, grow in size and absorb nutrients. Cory eventually wanted to try telepathy to communicate with the brain.

The record shows that W.H. Donovan was a very cruel and unscrupulous individual who was even hated by his own children. No wonder Cory’s wife and Frank objected to Cory’s plan to establish telepathic communication. Not only that, but he was also a tax cheat and the IRS had an ongoing case against him.

You may wish to conduct a THEMIS search for the term “taxes” and the abbreviation, “IRS.”

Today, such a person as Donovan would not be permitted to have his consciousness preserved. Repeat criminals, murderers, sex offenders, paedophiles, those convicted of violent crimes, fraud and so on, have been over the years, automatically excluded from the consciousness preservation program. Fortunately, such crimes are far and few between these days.

As you are aware, all possible forms of communication between the real and virtual human consciousness worlds is strictly prohibited and safeguards have been put in place to prevent this from ever occurring. With Cory’s attempt to actively communicate with Donovan’s brain, he awoke one morning to find a slip of paper with "get to N. Fuller, WH Donovan" written on it. He soon discovered from a magazine article that the writing on the paper and Donovan's handwriting and signature matched.

Question Upload: Didn’t that raise the question in Cory’s mind as to who was really in control? I ask this because I notice that there’s an entry in Cory’s diary referring to Frank’s comment to him, “Do you control it, or does it control you?

Exhibit Guide: Definitely a question human-kind has had to grapple with from the time we fashioned our first piece of technology. Every new advance, invention and idea eventually becomes a double-edged sword for us. For Cory, his ideas held out the hope for increasing our understanding of the human brain and thereby improve the human condition. Little did he know that he would be drawn in too far with his experiment by being possessed by Donovan, who used him to access Donavan’s account to withdraw cash; to virtually walk, talk, dress and act like Donavan; to make Donovan’s tax problem disappear with the aid of a payment of $250,000 so that arrangements would continue as usual involving the Attorney General; to use the power of blackmail, only to be blackmailed himself by Yocum, and to eventually resort to murder by arranging for Yocum to be eliminated, not to mention being forced to almost kill his friend Frank!

Somewhere deep inside Cory there was a human need to resist and regain control which surfaced when he recorded a message to his wife informing her that he was finding it harder to resist Donovan's influence, and that he might not return to be himself again. On the recording he told her of his plan to use a lightning rod on the house. Later on, after he was followed, he deliberately exited the cab he was in and was hit by a truck. When he woke up in hospital he was briefly himself again and told Janice that he was afraid until Donovan again took over.

With the help of a plan cooked up between Cory’s wife and Frank Schratt, along with Cory’s idea involving a bolt of lightning striking the house and blowing out the equipment supporting the brain, the brain and all that was W.H. Donovan was destroyed.

Although Cory faced disciplinary procedures and a loss of his medical licence, over subsequent years the results of his work were taken up by the Centre for Consciousness Studies which helped to refine work being conducted in the area of human consciousness. The result is that each of us today has the opportunity to, in manner of speaking, cheat death and explore our full potential unhindered by the limitations of our biology.

Thank you everyone for attending our exhibit which will be open until 16.30 today. Many of the exhibit’s features can be accessed anywhere any time via your preferred 

©Chris Christopoulos 2013