Monday, May 15, 2017

The Mind Benders (1963)

Starring Dirk Bogarde, Mary Ure, John Clements, Michael Bryant, Wendy Craig
Directed by Basil Dearden
(actor & director credits courtesy

A scientist goes through an isolation experiment to prove a colleague was not responsible for selling secrets, and is tested through brainwashing that challenges his devotion to his wife.

Although not truly a science fiction or horror film, as it's sometimes been described and marketed, this is a compelling drama with something profound to say about isolation's effects on the human mind.  Structured around an excellent performance by Bogarde, the actor is very convincing in conveying his trauma through anguish and violence in his voice while confined for hours underwater, and in portraying his relationship with Ure that ranges from passion to cruelty and indifference after his brainwashing.  The rest of the cast also give good performances, including Ure as the wife who silently endures her husband's hurtful treatment, and Clements as the hardened military officer supervising the experiment.  However while the screenplay contains some insightful dialogue, for me it takes some giant leaps that are a little too hard to believe, and a subplot concerning Bryant's pining for Ure's character isn't particularly well-integrated into the story.

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