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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Take Your Pick: Live Again or Change Your Mind


A Karloff Serving of UK Mad Science

If only Boris Karloff's American mad science thrillers had been half so good as this! The Man Who Changed His Mind was a title cleverly spun off the movie's theme, maybe too clever for marquees here, as US-distributors re-named it The Man Who Lived Again, this more compatible with Karloff expectation. After all, who'd care about a man who merely changes his mind, no further data on the plot being available? Movies then as now had to put over sale on titles first, star/situation second. The Man Who Lived Again was one of six tendered by Gaumont-British during fourth-quarter 1936. The company had a US distribution arm and were serious about cracking the domestic marketplace. A Broadway booking was had via Arthur Mayer's Rialto Theatre, known venue for shock stuff and a Main Stem address where Karloff was King ("Karloff is perfect for that house!", said The Independent Film Bulletin). Trades reported a best-in-months playoff there, but Lived Again wouldn't do so in subsequents, where report indicated below-average biz.


40's reissuing saw The Man Who Changed His Mind/Lived Again bearing cruder labels still: Doctor Maniac and The Brain Snatcher for two (the latter shown in an early 50's combo ad with The Evil Mind, which was re-titled The Clairvoyant from 1935), and who knows but from others more exploitative. It was for years the rarest of Karloffs, outside of The Ghoul. I came across a banged-up 16mm print in 1977 and thought I'd hung the moon: Just think, a major Karloff never-before-seen! For years, that continued to be case for much of fandom, until Shanachie Records released a really nice DVD from original elements. Both Lived Again and The Ghoul were done in home port of Britain by BK, site of not a little work he'd return to throughout, and up to a near-end (The Sorcerers and Crimson Cult), of a long career. The Man Who Changed His Mind was inventive and funny as in dialogue (Sydney Gilliat one of the writers). Transference of souls wasn't the worst idea a Karloff scientist ever had, and might have come to good, barring scoffer interference. I'd like to have seen just one of his experiments work out, with a Dr. or Prof. Boris basking at a finish in world accolades, but that would defeat a successful formula's purpose, and chillers weren't made, after all, to satisfy BK fans born a generation later.

3 Comments:

Blogger Mike Cline said...

Re: VINCENT PRICE banner. I saw him perform his one-man show of Oscar Wilde. Of course, he was magnificent.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

The supporting cast in THE MAN WHO CHANGED HIS MIND is almost as fun as BK himself. Donald Calthrop and Frank Cellier are great and Anna Lee is cute as a button. But John Loder's all too brief imitation of Karloff's trademark stoop shoulder trudge (their souls have been temporarily switched) is worth the price of admission alone!

9:40 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

So I watched this after your recommendation. It's an odd film. The horror stuff works as well as his best late 30s/early 40s non-Universal films like The Devil Commands, but it's hard to know what American audiences would have made of such extended satire of Lord Beaverbrook-- Frankenstein meets Waugh's Scoop! The best part of that is how skillfully Frank Cellier manages to imitate Donald Calthrop and suggest that the latter's mind and manner is in the former's body. Anyway, a fun view though I'm glad I didn't pay the $979 someone wants on Amazon for the Shanachie disc.

11:21 AM  

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