“I shall show you strange things about the mind of man.”
Dr. Laurience (Boris Karloff), The Man Who Changed His Mind
1936 was a transitional year for horror stars such as Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Horror was to be put on the back burner at the movie studios with no horror films released in 1937 or 1938. Karloff would find work but Lugosi was unemployed for some 15 months. However, before the horror drought would commence, Karloff would turn in one more horror flick and was slipping into his mad scientist mindset that he would carry on into the 1940s. For many, the best of this character types came with The Man Who Changed His Mind (1936) aka The Man Who Lived Again.
Boris Karloff plays Dr. Laurience, a brilliant scientist experimenting with mind transference. He seeks out the young Dr. Clare Wyatt (Anna Lee, Flesh and Fantasy) to be his assistant. His research is financed by a rich man named Lord Haslewood (Frank Cellier) who dreams of making even more off of Dr. Laurience’s invention. However, once the scientific community turns on Dr. Laurience, Haslewood decides to pull the plug on the finances. This pushes the eccentric Dr. Laurience over the edge, transferring the mind of Haslewood with that of his paraplegic assistant Clayton (Donald Calthrop). These events begin the spiral downward into madness for Laurience.
The concept of a famous female scientist was a bold idea in 1936 and Anna Lee does well in the role. John Loder (The Brighton Strangler) portrays her boyfriend Dick Haslewood, son of Lord Haslewood, adequately enough. The good cast combined with a well-written script is what works best here. The original script elevates the film. The laboratory is well-done without coming across as over-the top, something seen in other lesser mad scientist flicks.
The best aspect of the film really is how well Frank Cellier is able to transform after Haslewood becomes Clayton. Personally, I think it’s just as much fun as watching Karloff. As for Karloff, he turns in a masterful performance as Dr. Laurience, especially once he begins his slip into madness. The only weakness in the film comes from relying on the concept of mind transference too much. That minor quibble aside, The Man Who Changed His Mind is quite the fun way to spend your time. The film’s brisk running time of little more than an hour sets this up for the perfect half of a double feature on some rainy Friday October evening.
For many years, the only DVDs available were bootleg copies from a very worn-out 16mm with the American title cards. Thankfully, the original British print was released on DVD in 2004. Its’ availability now is hit and miss but you can still find copies out there. It is well-worth tracking down this lesser-known entry in the Karloff film library. Meanwhile, you can view it for free on YouTube. The print there is the superior British copy, which makes it all the better.