Curt Siodmaks book was never more than routine and none of the resulting films are any different. The various versions have tended to change with the times The Lady and the Monster, coming at the height of the mad scientist film, added a clearly mad Erich Von Stroheim to the story and set the laboratory in a Gothic castle. In the 1950s, when this version was made, the major threat that many science-fiction films saw was the brain itself or more so the unrestrained mind free of its body and thus the anchor of emotional sensibility. The likes of Forbidden Planet (1956), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and Fiend Without a Face (1958) see the greatest threat as coldly logical, inhumane reason that lacks any human warmth.
Donovan's Brain is not a particularly good film. The script spends much time following Donovans schemes but never allows these to amount to anything significant. The dialogue is incredible pompous it is some of the most atrocious pedestal pontificating in 1950s science-fiction. Nancy Davis anguishes as Lew Ayres removes monkey brains:
It seems so pointless. Four wasted lives.
Lew Ayres gives a wimpy performance there is one moment in the hospital bed where he changes from the ineffectual Cory to the cruel and domineering Donovan in the space of a shot but otherwise the great melodramatic potential of such a performance is completely wasted. Later to be First Lady Nancy Davis (Reagan) plays the hand-wringing wife role it is amazing that Donovan's Brain has never been rediscovered and developed a kitsch cult in the same way that Ronald Reagans films were. Ones personal contempt of the hideous values the Reagans embodied aside, she is awful, almost completely sexless.
Curt Siodmaks other genre scripts include:- F.P.1 Does Not Answer (1932), Trans-Atlantic Tunnel (1935), The Ape (1940), Black Friday (1940), The Invisible Man Returns (1940), The Invisible Woman (1940), The Wolf Man (1941), Invisible Agent (1942), Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), Son of Dracula (1943), The Climax (1944), House of Frankenstein (1944), The Beast with Five Fingers (1946), Tarzans Magic Fountain (1949), Riders to the Stars (1954), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955) and Earth Vs the Flying Saucers (1956). Siodmak also directed/wrote several films with Bride of the Gorilla (1951), The Magnetic Monster (1953), Curucu, Beast of the Amazon (1956) and Love Slaves of the Amazon (1957). Siodmaks lesser known novel Hausers Memory (1968) about transplanted memories was also filmed as the tv movie Hausers Memory (1970).
Director Felix Feist made a number of films throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s, before moving into television in the 1960s. His only other genre contribution was the catastrophe film and first ever disaster movie Deluge (1933). He was also the stepfather of popular fantasy author Raymond E. Feist.