February 23, 2017


The Mind Benders – 1962 | 109 mins | Drama | B&W


Plot Synopsis

The Mind Benders

Intelligent Cold War psychological thriller about a scientist who submits himself to an experiment in sensory deprivation with terrifying consequences. Adapted by James Kennaway from his own novel, the sombre screenplay unevenly mixes elements of science-fiction and family drama into an absorbing opening half-hour, but during the latter stages the suspense slackens and the plot becomes contrived as it focuses on Bogarde’s disintegrating marriage. Dirk Bogarde reunites with director Basil Dearden following their success with the provocative Victim (1961), and Bogarde is particularity excellent as his tortured character undergoes a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. John Clements makes a rare latter day appearance as the suitably resolute and unyielding Old School military man determined to find answers.

Distinguished physiologist and Oxford don, Professor Sharpey (Harold Goldblatt),one day inexplicably commits suicide by jumping from a moving train. Sharpey was already under the surveillance of military security officer Major Hall (John Clements), and when £1,000 is found in his briefcase, Hall goes to Oxford University to make the case for a charge of treason against the dead professor.Sharpey had been experimenting with Isolation, the study of what happens to a man when all sensations – touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing are removed,with Dr. Tate (Michael Bryant) and Dr. Henry Longman (Dirk Bogarde). Intriguingly, Longman has been absent from the university for six weeks.

Longhorn declares that Sharpey was a patriot and pacifist,and believes his death was due to brainwashing whilst undergoing the isolation experiments. To clear the name of his colleague, Longman voluntarily agrees to repeat the experiments in the isolation tank and submit himself to the ultimate in mental stress. During eight hours submerged under water Longman goes through four stages of nervous collapse until he is eventually retrieved by Tate and Hall. To prove his point Hall suggests they try brainwashing the semi-conscious Longman by breaking one of his strongest beliefs; the love for his wife Oonagh (Mary Ure). When Oonagh subsequently announces to Longman that she is pregnant, his reaction is at best indifferent. This is the beginning of his gradual disintegration as Longman’s behaviour changes markedly; being uncouth towards his wife, degrading her and cavorting with college tart Annabella (Wendy Craig). Hall arrives six months later and observes first-hand the exceptional change in Longman’s behaviour – and attempts to demonstrate how he has been indoctrinated.

Production Team

Basil Dearden: Director
Jim Morahan: Art Direction
Denys N Coop: Cinematography
Anthony Mendleson: Costume Design
John D Guthridge: Film Editing
Harry Frampton: Makeup Department
Pearl Orton: Makeup Department
Georges Auric: Original Music
Michael Relph: Producer
James Kennaway: Script
Bill Butler: Sound Department
Robert T MacPhee: Sound Department
Gordon K McCallum: Sound Department


Dirk Bogarde: Dr Henry Longman
Mary Ure: Oonagh Longman
John Clements: Major Hall
Michael Bryant: Dr Tate
Wendy Craig: Annabella
Harold Goldblatt: Professor Sharpey
Geoffrey Keen: Calder
Terry Palmer: Norman
Norman Bird: Aubrey
Roger Delgado: Dr Jean Bonvoulois
Edward Fox: Stewart
Terence Alexander: Coach

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