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  • Like Raymond Burr, William Conrad started out in late-40s film noir as (no surprise) a heavy, and also ended up in series television ("Cannon"). But he also produced and directed both TV and some movies. His Brainstorm arrived in 1965, smack in the transition period from big old films made in the style of the studios to the newer kinds of filmmaking in the 1970s renaissance. It's an offbeat but interesting movie. The first third recalls Max Ophuls' Caught, the middle Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, and conclusion Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor. Jeff Hunter is a computer whiz working in some top-secret aerospace concern run by sinister mogul Dana Andrews. One night Hunter finds a car stalled on a railroad track with a woman (Anne Francis) passed out inside. He rescues her, and she turns out to be Andrews' wife, who was making a suicide attempt. Major complications ensue, with romantic involvement leading to attempts to "gaslight" Hunter which in turn engender a plot to murder Andrews. Viveca Lindfors turns up as an enigmatic psychoanalyst in this roiling plot that, in the spirit of the 60s, poses the question, "Is insanity contagious?"
  • Lots of small pleasures in this strangely compelling William Conrad-directed mid-60s noir sleeper. Among other things, the unusual cast is very game. Sci-Fi veterans Jeffrey Hunter (the first Captain of the Enterprise) and Anne Francis (the cause of Walter Pidgeon's "Monsters of the Id" from FORBIDDEN PLANET) team up in this effort to hoodwink the system by having Hunter feign insanity. Hunter, whose tragic life seems to mirror his desperate character here, is impressive in a demanding role requiring more emoting than he generally showed in his more typically laconic choices. Hammer veteran Viveca Lindfors is particularly effective in the analyst role, appearing to be sympathetic and caring but really only doing her own cold-blooded job. Cast is rounded out by noir vet Dana Andrews. It's a shame Conrad didn't really pursue directing much after this effort; the clever little script takes a different approach to psychotherapy and insanity which is well-suited to the low budget Conrad had to work with. The music, cinematography and fashions are all pure mid-60s, a compliment to a bygone era full of excesses but also occasionally blessed with productive experimentation. I would count this movie as one of the productive attempts, particularly worthy of your time if you're a noir or Star Trek Classic fan. Not a masterpiece, but certainly worthy of the cult status it has attained over the years. 8/10
  • blanche-211 August 2005
    By the time "Brainstorm" was made, both Jeffrey Hunter and Dana Andrews had descended into B films. "Brainstorm" was one of them, costarring '50s starlet Anne Francis. Directed by William Conrad, it's actually a good movie about an engineer who falls in love with the unhappy wife of a wealthy man (Andrews) and concocts a scheme to kill him and get away with it by faking insanity.

    Hunter is very good in this dramatic role - he was a far better actor than some of his contemporaries but due to his personal demons, he never fulfilled his early promise. It's a shame because he played this kind of angry, edgy role very well, belying his staggering good looks. He gets good support from Andrews, Francis, and Viveca Lindfors, who plays a psychiatrist.

    There is one scene that may be unintentionally funny - when Hunter is in the asylum, one of the inmates starts singing the beginning of a song over and over again. Hunter finally screams, "Either finish that song or SHUT UP!" Brainstorm is worth a watch, especially to see Hunter do a role deserving of his abilities, and one he no longer had an opportunity to play in A films.
  • Certainly, the movie is worth the watch.

    Insane or not Insane? That is the Question! What is the answer? (See my board post which answers that but contains spoilers there.) Well, you better take notes and watch carefully, because you might have to go back and re-watch a few scenes. Yeah, one of those nice suspense movies. :) The director here is in tune with the message, and will play with you using a tiny bit of Hitchcock like style, but it's a well crafted movie. Yes, there are some rough spots around the edges, but one should certainly watch it for the great story and pretty good acting by both the scientist and the women.

    Break out the popcorn and watch the end closely! Good movie for the time period. Still fits for today. Nicely directed.
  • What I found most interesting about this movie was the idea of Jeffrey Hunter's character feigning insanity. I wondered was he really faking or just deluded? Because, the idea of pretending to be insane to the nth degree sounds, well, insane. I thought the movie was well cast. However, Jeffrey Hunter steels every scene he is in as he seemed to revel in this role. It was good to see Jeffrey Hunter in a role he could sink his teeth into. He did a good job in communicating his desperation. It would have been nice to see him in more character roles. If you want to see Jeffrey Hunter in a role that is out of character then this is a movie worth checking out.
  • After being seduced by the unstable wife of his millionaire boss, a brilliant young engineer concocts a crackpot plan for the two to be together: murder her husband and then convince a panel of psychiatrists that he is clinically insane (the rationale being, I assume, that incarceration in a mental asylum is much preferable to prison!). Warner Bros. potboiler with a television budget--another in a string of pulpy, somewhat-sleazy yarns to be directed by William Conrad--is engrossing and enjoyable, even as it fails to come to much. Conrad works well with his actors while concentrating firmly on his narrative, however his scene transitions are amateurish and his work is not helped by the TV drama-styled editing (not to mention the melodramatic music cues). Jeffrey Hunter (curiously billed as Jeff Hunter) begins the film behaving like a staunch, overgrown Boy Scout, but by the second-half really goes out on a limb with the tics, cold sweats, and stammers of a man driven half-mad by desire. Screenwriter Mann Rubin preys upon the viewer's fear of insanity by setting our hero up as a dupe, a willing 'Gaslight' victim who may not be one-hundred-percent in the head anyway. There are no surprise twists to the plot, nor do Conrad or Rubin mean this to be a cautionary tale for would-be illicit lovers. It's rather a squarely straightforward tale with incidental characters (such as Viveca Lindfors' sweetly smiling doctor) who are never fully explained and a finale that is meant to be highly shocking. **1/2 from ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As I have mentioned elsewhere, it was Anne Francis, via her performance in the 1965 television program "Honey West," who was first responsible for, uh, jump-starting this young viewer's dormant puberty, and the actress has been one of my very favorites ever since. Anne was always a captivating and eye-catching performer--an undersung actress, truly--who unfailingly made any film or TV show better for her participation in it. And while she always had been a beauty--from child model at age 5, to one of her earliest screen appearances, unbilled, as one of the three teenagers at the tail end of 1948's "Portrait of Jennie," and on to her legendary appearance as Altaira in 1956's "Forbidden Planet"--it wasn't until the mid-1960s that her beauty came to full fruition...for this viewer, anyway. Thus, the Anne Francis of 1965 was really something to see, and fortunately, that year would prove to be a banner one for the actress. It was the year that "Honey West" premiered in the fall, and the year in which Anne starred in two very fine big-screen entertainments: "The Satan Bug" and "Brainstorm." I had seen the first of those two many times in the past, but it was not until Warners started to release some vintage films in its DVD Archives Collection that I got a chance to finally see the latter. And, as it turns out, it was well worth the wait. "Brainstorm" (not to be confused with the 1983 film entitled "Brainstorm," which would be Natalie Wood's swan song) has been called the last of the classic B&W film noirs, and I would most surely agree with that description. Very much following the mold of such noirs as "Double Indemnity" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice," but updating them to more modern times, the film holds up very well today, now more than 50 years since its initial release in May '65.

    In the film, Jeffrey Hunter (who had starred with Anne in 1952's "Dreamboat" and was also enjoying a good film year in 1965, having just completed the "Star Trek" pilot "The Cage") plays an engineer named Jim Grayam, who works for a large aeronautical concern in California. Grayam comes upon a stalled car on a railroad track near the company building, and sees that a woman has passed out on the front seat, unaware of the train barreling down on her and her car. He rescues the woman and takes her home...the home of his employer, Cort Benson (Dana Andrews, who also appeared with Anne in "The Satan Bug" that year, as well as in "Crack in the World" and "In Harm's Way"). The woman, as it turns out, is Lorrie Benson (our Anne)...a miserably unhappy wife who is appalled that her recent suicide attempt has failed. Despite her anger at Grayam's rescue, she later invites him to one of her scavenger parties, and the two engage upon a lustful affair. But when her husband finds out, he does everything in his power to frame Grayam and make him appear to be losing his mind. Thus, a woman falsely accuses Jim of being a pervert caller; his car is stolen; his lab is wrecked. No dummy, Grayam realizes what is being done to him, and he and Lorrie, in true noir fashion, hatch a clever scheme to do the vicious Cort in. "Only a madman can get away with murder," Jim realizes, and thus he plots to kill Cort in some manner to be later determined, pretend to be insane, get put away in the booby hatch for a year or so, and then emerge a free man. Sounds simple, right? But do these things ever work out as planned?

    "Brainstorm," besides boasting three terrific performances by its three leads (Hunter is particularly good here in his starring role), also showcases terrific supporting work by Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors (she'd previously appeared along with Hunter in "King of Kings") as Dr. Larstadt, a psychiatrist who endeavors to determine whether or not Grayam really is insane or not; Richard "Jaws" Kiel as a mental patient; and three more future "Star Trek" alumni: Kathy Browne as that telephone accuser, Phillip Pine as another psychiatrist, and Steve Ihnat as a doctor. William Conrad, future star of TV's "Cannon" and "Jake and the Fatman," here directs his third Warners film of the year (the others being "Two for a Guillotine" and "My Blood Runs Cold") and brings some impressive directorial touches to the fore (the killing of Cort is especially well done and suspenseful); Mann Rubin's screenplay is both sharp and no-nonsense; and Sam Leavitt's B&W lensing is a thing of true film noir beauty. It is a haunting and atmospheric film, really, whose impact should surely linger with the viewer for days after the final scenes unreel. A mash-up of sorts of those earlier film noirs ("Double Indemnity" is especially homaged, never more so than in the scene in which Anne wears those dark shades as she and Jim plot murder in a library...very reminiscent of the shades that Barbara Stanwyck sports in the supermarket scene in the 1944 film) with the disturbing sanatorium scenes in Sam Fuller's 1963 classic "Shock Corridor," "Brainstorm" is a near-forgotten winner that surely does deserve to find a wider audience today. It contains any number of wonderful sequences (I love the one in which Grayam injects himself with truth serum in an effort to build up his immunity), and is never better than in the scenes with Grayam and Dr. Linstadt, during which we are uncertain just what the doctor is thinking, and whether or not Jim is going crazy or just pretending. And Anne? OMG! As I have mentioned, she never looked more gorgeous than in 1965, and this film shows her at the top of her yummy form. Always a flawless actress, she steals every scene that she appears in. But this is Hunter's film all the way, and his performance here is both appealing and affecting. Somehow, the viewer WANTS him to get away with this murder (Dana's Cort character really is a nasty piece of work), and thus the final moments of the film are all the more unforgettable. "The Most Fiendish Idea Ever Conceived by the Human Brain!" the film's promotional poster declared ... a hyperbolic statement concealing an extremely well-done film. Happily, the era of the classic film noir went out with a very fine winner, indeed!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Interestingly, this film was produced and directed by William Conrad--THAT William Conrad. Yes, the one who played Cannon on TV back in the 1970s! "Brainstorm" stars Jeffery Hunter (here billed as 'Jeff Hunter'), Anne Francis and Dana Andrews. It begins with Francis attempting suicide and a stranger, Hunter, saving her and bringing her home to her husband--a man of is extremely rich and powerful. Soon after, Francis begins contacting Hunter. She's bored and wants him to play with her! He resists at first but soon they become lovers. This is a problem since she's married and because when Andrews learns about this, he appears to be a clever and vindictive man and makes Hunter's life very, very difficult. So, Hunter concocts a plan--since Andrews is making people think he's crazy, let's go all the way--fake being crazy so he can then get away with killing Andrews!

    While all this might sound a bit hard to believe, stick with this film. It's so well-written and directed that towards the end you start to realize that there's FAR more to the movie. I could say more but it could spoil the film. Let's just say that Hunter does a great job and all the loose ends seem accounted for and well done. A nearly perfect suspense film. Just stick with this one, as it only gets better and better as the film continues. Excellent in every way.
  • I do some court monitoring volunteering and a few years back I sat in on a murder case where a 19 year killed a 60 something man with whom he was having a sexual relationship with. During the course of the trial this kid gave certain answers to the court appointed scientist that he thought would help his case. As the perpetrator was high school drop out with a GED he wasn't fooling any shrink.

    But that's what Jeffrey Hunter tries to do in Brainstorm. Hunter is a top scientist working for billionaire industrialist Dana Andrews. Hunter one nights saves Anne Francis who is the wife of Andrews from a suicide attempt. Risks his own life to do it.

    Andrews is a cruel and vicious man and Hunter falls for Francis. Like the way Barbara Stanwyck lures Fred MacMurray into her murder scheme, Francis gets entrapped in her scheme and goes one better in that Hunter thinks it's all his idea.

    Like my GED case Hunter being a most educated man figures he can game the insanity defense system. He does to some extent, but the end results are not what he bargained for.

    I was pleasantly surprised by this film, mainly because Dana Andrews was doing a lot of mediocre films at this point so I wasn't expecting much from Brainstorm. But I found it refreshingly original, written and directed by actor William Conrad who had a nice sense of style. Jeffrey Hunter was really great in the part of the luckless lead. Kudos also go to Viveca Lindfors as a consulting psychiatrist.

    The scenes with Hunter in the insane asylum are really freaky and bizarre. I expected to see Olivia DeHavilland and Dr. Kick come in the ward. The scenes were right of The Snake Pit. Strother Martin is one of the patients and he's memorable too.

    And the ending is one for the books. Definitely if you're a fan of any of the players I mentioned you should see this film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've always liked Jeffrey Hunter's work, especially in "No Down Payment" but also in a lot of other 1950s and 1960s films. His death at an early age in 1969 ensured that he never reached the older-age parts for actors in their 50s and 60s, but his body of work is very good nonetheless. "Brainstorm" is a very, very good drama from 1965 and Hunter is excellent.

    Young, brilliant, and rather nerdy systems analyst Jim Grayam (Hunter) leaves work one night to find a woman (Anne Francis) asleep in a car astride railroad tracks. After a frantic rescue, Grayam discovers that the woman is Lorrie Benson, wife of his company's CEO Cort Benson (Dana Andrews). Lorrie Benson and Grayam start an affair, much to the displeasure of Cort Benson, who tries everything to discredit and destroy Grayam. After murdering Cort Benson, Grayam ends up in a mental institution, which he planned so he can be released early to be with Lorrie. The only problem is that Lorrie leaves him, and after an escape from captivity, Grayam is recaptured, now really crazy due to his experience in the hospital.

    Efficiently directed by William Conrad, "Brainstorm" showcases Francis and Hunter quite well. Hunter's performance is top-notch, Francis is nearly as good, while Dana Andrews does his evil rich guy character a good turn. Viveca Lindfors is very convincing as a psychiatrist, as well. Maybe the best performance is provided by Stacy Harris, who does a wonderful job as Grayam's dedicated and honest boss. This B&W film isn't for everyone's tastes, but you must tune in for the railroad crossing scene at the film's beginning...it'll give you butterflies and white knuckles.
  • This is a nasty story about a quite orderly ambitious and very talented young scientist who runs into bad luck in the shape of a woman, who happens to be the wife of his employer billionaire, financing projects like Apollo for the moon. She is not happy with him although she has everything including a lovely little daughter, and our man runs into her as she is trying to commit suicide parking her car in a railway crossing being dead drunk. He saves her, and there it starts - he should never have done that. Although he gets warnings, he gets involved with her to the degree of psychosis, so he is willing to do anything for her and does it with very serious consequences - his tragedy is that he in his love never again can control himself nor his life but just has to follow the hole way of his consistent delusion. Jeff Hunter makes the role very well, she is no better than she should be, Dana Andrews as the elderly billionaire husband is very much Dana Andrews, while the one who saves the film is Viveca Lindfors as the psychiatrist. She is always beautiful, always makes a great appearance and is an ideal actress in her cool beauty, and thanks to her the film is bearable, although you must have serious objections to the intrigue, allowing him to totally lose all sernse of self preservation. It is a neo-noir but lacks the stamina and convincing flow of the classical noirs of the 40s. The stoyt couldn't end otherwise, it is consistently logic all the way, and the two women that betray him couldn't do otherwise either, being as they are. He only has himself to blame for his stupidity in all his brilliant genius. "Do you have brains, Einstein? Use it!" He doesn't, or that is where he fails in going too far in using it for his uncontrolled needs of desperation instead of coolly working on reasonable detachment just for ordinary human survival.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This excessively melodramatic thriller has everybody yelling over ridiculously bombastic music to the point where even extra-strength Tylenol can't help make sense of this mess. Starting off O.K. (with Jeffrey Hunter rescuing the allegedly suicidal Anne Francis from an on-coming train), it goes haywire once you meet her extremely cruel husband (Dana Andrews) whom this James Cain ripped off couple plot to kill with the intention of him getting an insanity plea. Toss in a subplot involving Hunter's scientific research, his therapy with the beautiful psychiatrist Viveca Lindfors, and Hunter's eventual sentencing to a mental institution, and the result is a curvy road map of a plot that runs out of gas long before it gets to its destination. Even if you make it to the end, you may have left it behind psychologically long before that.
  • Sooo many holes and issues here... The script needed serious tightening. As a computer science major, I see that the "computer screen" is displaying only something that someone must have programmed it to do. Anne Francis is "Lorrie", the trophy wife of a politician. She tries to off herself, and falls for the guy (Jim) who saves her at the last minute (Jeff Hunter). Sadly, Hunter himself would pass away only a couple years after making this... complications of a stroke, a fall, and a surgery. They plot to knock off the rich politician, but of course, things get complicated from there. It's all a set up... who's the good guy, and who is getting framed?? will all this put Jim over the edge? Directed by William Conrad, who had starred in his own series, "Cannon". Brainstorm was the last film that Conrad directed... looks like he only directed about four or five actual films; the rest were TV episodes. meh. S'okay. lots of "high technology" in the background, mag tapes spinning, paper printing out. all pretty impressive for 1965.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ****SPOILERS**** A tale of murder and madness involving the brilliant if not a bit mixed up electronic and computer genius Jim Gayam, Jeffery Hunter. Jim who after saving Lorrie Benson's, Anne Francis, life from getting pulverized by an express train in a failed suicide attempt falls crazily in love with her. Jim soon plans to murder Lorrie's abusing husband Cort, Dana Andrews, and use the insanity defense to get away with it.

    It's Cort who's in fact Jim's boss at Benson's Industries who considers him to be his most talented employee calling him the young Einstein who feels without Jim help his company would go bankrupt. It's later when Lorrie and Jim start having an affair behind his back Cort plans to make both lovebirds lives a living hell and in Lorrie's case leave her both without her high flying and spending lifestyle and the couple's daughter Julie,Victoria Paige Mejeknik. As for Jim Cort does everything possible to discredit him by planing stories that he's nuts and getting nuttier as well as being phone freak calling womens all hours of the day and night and propositioning them for freaky sex. One of those stories that is in fact true,compared to those that Cort made up, is that as a collage student Jim ended up in a mental institution from the results of a nervous breakdown at age 19. This is to show that all the stories about his violent actions and creepiness is true.

    In planning to get Cort out of his and Lorrie's lives Jim concocts this hair brain scheme of offing Cort and making it look like he was legally insane when he did it. Doing that Jim would end up in a mental asylum for a few years and then after showing that he's recovered from his insanity be released and marry Lorrie who'd be withing for him on the outside. Blowing Cort away at a stock holder meeting Jim's arrested for his murder and now puts on this crazy act to prove that he was insane at the time he did Cort in. With the help of world renowned psycho analyst Dr.Larstardt, Viveca Lindfors, whom the boyishly handsome Jim makes a play for he ends up being certified insane by Dr. Larstardt and a number of fellow psychiatrists at his trial and sent straight to the funny farm, mental institution, just like he planned.

    ***SPOILERS*** Well things did't exactly work out the way that Jim planned it in that being put in a place with insane people he himself started to lose it and become just as nutty as any of them. Meanwhile Jim's lover Lorrie that he did all this for left him high and dry and took off with her late husband's butler feeling that he's in fact too crazy to marry and bring up a family with. In a desperate attempt to prove that he's normal Jim later breaks out of the loony bin and heads straight for Dr.Larstadt place in a last effort for her to prove that he's as normal as you or I.

    By then it's obvious to Dr. Larstadt and anyone else watching the movie that Jim's as nutty as a fruitcake as the movie ends with the men in the white suites and asylum security guards taking a very uncooperative Jim away to a padded cell where he can spend all him time reviewing his now shattered life and how he and only he was responsible in making a complete mess out of it. The movie is a lot like the Samuel Fuller 1963 classic "Shock corridor" where in one faking insanity he or she can in the end become insane without even knowing it.

    P.S Check out the films director William Conrad and 7 foot 2 inch tall Richard Keil in the movie as asylum inmates.