Man Without a Body


1h 20m 1958

Brief Synopsis

A wealthy business man discovers he has a brain tumor and seeks medical help. The business man finds a scientist experimenting with transplanting monkey heads on different monkey bodies. The business man decides to steal the head of Nostradamus from the prophet's crypt.

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Film Details

Also Known As
Curse of Nostradamus
Release Date
Jan 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Filmplays, Ltd.; W. Lee Wilder Productions
Distribution Company
State Rights
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
London, England, Great Britain; London--Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, England, United Kingdom; London--Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, England, Great Britain

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,360ft

Synopsis

When his doctor informs New York business tycoon Karl Brussard that he has a brain tumor, the megalomaniacal Brussard refuses to believe he may soon die. Upon hearing that British doctor Phil Merritt is experimenting with brain transplants, Brussard takes his mistress Odette to Phil's London office. There, Phil makes a chart of Brussard's brain waves, and while he waits, the millionaire watches with great interest as Phil, with his assistants, Lew Waldenhouse and Jean Kramer, replace one monkey's brain with another, disembodied but functioning, monkey brain. Although Phil diagnoses Brussard as mortally ill, Brussard insists on learning more about the operation with the monkey. Over drinks, while Odette flirts with Lew at a nearby table, Phil explains to Brussard how he has learned to reanimate previously dead tissues, but balks at Brussard's declaration that now all he needs to be healthy is a human brain to transplant into his body. With this in mind, Brussard visits Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, and upon hearing from the guide that Nostradamus was the most gifted intellectual of his time, decides he must procure the seer's brain. He finds a doctor, Brandon, who has lost his license for malpractice and so eagerly accepts Brussard's cash payment to accompany him to Nostradamus' tomb in France. There, Brandon opens the crypt and severs Nostradamus' mummified head from his body, after which Brussard encases the head inside a bust of Odette in order to smuggle it back into England. He brings the head to Phil, lying that it was obtained legally, and Phil agrees to experiment with reanimating it. Twenty-two days later, while Brussard paces through the laboratory, impatient for progress on the head, Jean tries to interest Phil in romance instead of science, and Odette and Lew carry on a torrid, secret affair. That night, the head finally comes back to life, and Phil sustains it with various mechanisms that simulate heart and lung activity. Soon after, Brussard suffers a stroke, and Phil puts him to bed upstairs to convalesce. Odette uses the opportunity to convince Lew to sabotage the experiments with Nostradamus, knowing that when Brussard recovers he will try to achieve immortality with the new brain. That night, Brussard wanders through the lab and upon discovering the head, rants that the doctors are trying to hide their progress from him. Phil returns Brussard to bed and then, back in the lab, hears Nostradamus speak for the first time. He, Jean and Lew spend the next days informing the seer about all the new discoveries since his death, locking Brussard in his room to keep him away. Later, however, Phil allows Brussard to meet Nostradamus, and the millionaire imparts his knowledge of business to the head, hoping to ready the brain for insertion into his body. When Brussard then learns that he must make an important business decision, he asks Nostradamus for help, and unknown to him, Nostradamus purposefully gives him bad advice to sell his securities. As Brussard sells all his stock, Lew attempts to damage the brain, but Nostradamus convinces the doctor to work with him to destroy Brussard instead. As Nostradamus has planned, Brussard's sale of his stock is quickly ruining him, and when Odette learns that Brussard is becoming insolvent, she grabs the jewels he has given her and races to Lew's house. Brussard tries to attack Nostradamus, but when Phil throws him out of the lab, he trails Odette to Lew's and chokes her with the jewelry. Lew, returning home to find Brussard laying in wait with a gun drawn, runs back to the lab with Brussard in pursuit. Once inside the door, however, Brussard manages to shoot Lew in the head and then flee. While Phil attends to Lew, with little success, Brussard sneaks back in and shoots the mechanism sustaining Nostradamus' brain. With Lew's brain injured and Nostradamus in need of a body, Phil quickly grafts the brain onto Lew's body. Not realizing that the operation has failed and the brain and body are now a monstrous creature, Phil reports the night's activities to the police. Brussard returns later, but when the monster sees him, it attacks, chasing him into the street. As the police track the monster, they spot Brussard and pursue him, unaware that Brussard is now following the monster. Brussard and the monster enter a schoolhouse and mount the stairs to the bell tower, followed by the police, Phil and Jean. While the others wait below, Brussard grows dizzy on the stairs and falls to his death, followed by Lew's body. When Phil looks up, he sees Nostradamus' inert head caught in a noose formed by the bell rope.

Photo Collections

The Man Without a Body - Lobby Cards
The Man Without a Body - Lobby Cards

Film Details

Also Known As
Curse of Nostradamus
Release Date
Jan 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Filmplays, Ltd.; W. Lee Wilder Productions
Distribution Company
State Rights
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
London, England, Great Britain; London--Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, England, United Kingdom; London--Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, England, Great Britain

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,360ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The opening and closing cast credits vary slightly in order. Although the film's onscreen credits include a 1956 copyright statement for Filmplays, Ltd., it was not registered for copyright at that time. However, the film was registered on December 4, 1985 by Paramount Pictures, under copyright number PA 278-565.
       No contemporary American reviews or specific release date have been located for the film, although NYSA records reveal that it was approved for exhibition in New York state in 1958. The picture includes stock footage of the Stock Market in New York City. As noted in the film's press materials, many scenes were filmed on location in London, including at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Julia Arnall made her American film debut in Man Without a Body.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United Kingdom 1957

Released in United States 1959

b&w

Released in United Kingdom 1957

Released in United States 1959