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October 13, 2005

The Brain from the Planet Arous

Nathan Hertz (Nathan Juran) - 1957
Image Region 1 DVD

I hope that I am not doing a diservice by writing about The Brain from the Planet Arous. It's one of those films that has to be seen to be appreciated. The Nathan Juran filmography should be appreciated for films that are as enjoyable as they are trivial. While Brain is not as good as Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman or Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, it is certainly more entertaining than Hellcats of the Navy, the film that brought Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis together on screen.

Earth is invaded by a giant flying brain with eyes named Gor. Gor attaches himself to scientist Steve March, a noted nuclear scientist, with the goal of taking over Earth and going back to conquer his own planet. Gor decides that March's fiancee Sally is "exciting", providing extra incentive for taking over March's body. When Gor uses March to display his psychic powers, March looks like the guy in those commercials for male 'enhancement" products with his wide eyes and big grin.

This is one very libinous movie. Thanks to Gor, March is seen having sex on the brain, as it were. After his first encounter with Gor, he returns to have a close encounter with Sally, partially ripping off her shirt. The name of the planet rhymes with Eros, although the way March acts, the name of the planet could be Arouse. When he's not hiding in March's body, Gor is flying around in crummy superimposition shots, letting us know that he's hot for this particular Earth girl who refuses to be easy.

Sure you can see the strings, and the exploding airplanes look like models stuffed with firecrackers. There is one nice visual touch, when John Agar, the actor playing March, is talking to Sally's father. Indicating horrors to come, Agar's face is photographed distorted behind a water cooler. A similar effect was done by Frank Tashlin with Jerry Lewis in Artists and Models. Discussing his craft, Juran commented: "I approached the picture business as a business. I always did pictures for the money, and for the creative challenges. I wasn't a born director. I was just a technician who could transfer the script from the page to the stage and could get it shot on schedule and on budget. I never became caught up in the 'romance' of the movies."

Juran may have been a pragmatist with no artistic pretenses, but he produced enough cinematic fun that he was certainly more than a hack.

Posted by peter at October 13, 2005 12:00 AM


Peter, I've no specific comments to make, I just want to say I enjoy this site a lot--old sci-fi movies mixed with Bertolucci, assertions of a Wes Craven film's greater self-referentiality than Godard! Lots of ideas & description, and lots of films from all walks of cinematic life ... it'll take me a while to catch up with archives. Keep it up.

Posted by: Zach at October 14, 2005 09:04 PM

Wow! Thank you for the compliment.

Posted by: Peter Nellhaus at October 14, 2005 09:15 PM