Man Made Monster (1941)

59 or 68 mins | Horror | 28 March 1941

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HISTORY

The working titles of the film were The Mysterious Dr. R and The Mysterious Dr. X . Modern sources also list The Electric Man and The Human Robot as working titles. The film was based on the unpublished short story "The Electric Man" by H. J. Essex, Sid Schwartz and Len Golos. According to modern sources, the story was purchased by Universal for $3,300 in Aug 1935 and was to be the basis for a Universal project called The Man in the Cab , which was to have starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. That film was never made, however. This was the first Universal horror film to star Lon Chaney, Jr., the son of the famous silent film star, who was to become a popular fixture of Universal horror films of the 1940s.
       According to HR , Joseph West was a writing pseudonym for director George Waggner. HR reported in Mar 1941 that Waggner was awarded a seven-year contract with Universal, based on his work on this film and Horror Island (See Entry). It was upon the conclusion of this production that actor Lionel Atwill had his supposed Christmas "wild party," which led to his conviction in 1942 for lying under oath to a Los Angeles grand jury concerning his actions of that night. According to LAT , this conviction was later overturned, but Atwill's acting career never recovered from the scandal. Modern sources state that the film was budgeted at $86,000, and credit John P. Fulton with special photographic effects, Jack P. Pierce with makeup and David Sharpe with ... More Less

The working titles of the film were The Mysterious Dr. R and The Mysterious Dr. X . Modern sources also list The Electric Man and The Human Robot as working titles. The film was based on the unpublished short story "The Electric Man" by H. J. Essex, Sid Schwartz and Len Golos. According to modern sources, the story was purchased by Universal for $3,300 in Aug 1935 and was to be the basis for a Universal project called The Man in the Cab , which was to have starred Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. That film was never made, however. This was the first Universal horror film to star Lon Chaney, Jr., the son of the famous silent film star, who was to become a popular fixture of Universal horror films of the 1940s.
       According to HR , Joseph West was a writing pseudonym for director George Waggner. HR reported in Mar 1941 that Waggner was awarded a seven-year contract with Universal, based on his work on this film and Horror Island (See Entry). It was upon the conclusion of this production that actor Lionel Atwill had his supposed Christmas "wild party," which led to his conviction in 1942 for lying under oath to a Los Angeles grand jury concerning his actions of that night. According to LAT , this conviction was later overturned, but Atwill's acting career never recovered from the scandal. Modern sources state that the film was budgeted at $86,000, and credit John P. Fulton with special photographic effects, Jack P. Pierce with makeup and David Sharpe with stunts. In addition, modern sources list Gary Breckner ( Radio announcer ) and Bob Reeves ( Guard ) in the cast. The film was reissued by Realart in 1951 under the title The Atomic Monster . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
29 Mar 1941.
---
Daily Variety
24 Mar 41
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 Mar 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 40
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 40
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 41
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
7 May 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 Mar 41
p. 86.
New York Times
19 Mar 41
p. 25.
Variety
26 Mar 41
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
Story
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
Gen mus dir
SOUND
[Sd] tech
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit pub wrt
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Mysterious Dr. R
The Mysterious Dr. X
Release Date:
28 March 1941
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 March 1941
Production Date:
late November--mid December 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
19 March 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10327
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
59 or 68
Length(in feet):
5,374
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7057
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Carnival performer Dan McCormick is the sole survivor of a traffic accident that ends when the bus he is riding on crashes into an electricity tower. The doctors are amazed at Dan's condition, as he seems unaffected by the electricity that killed his fellow passengers. Dr. John Lawrence, an electro-biologist, asks Dan to visit him upon his release from the hospital. Back at his home, Lawrence argues with his assistant, Dr. Paul Rigas, about Rigas' obsession with developing a superior race of men who are fed and controlled by electricity. When reporter Mark Adams visits the Lawrence home, he is chastised by June, Lawrence's niece, for his flippant attitude toward Dan's accident. Lawrence tells Dan that he may have survived the accident because of his built-up immunity to electricity, which he probably developed performing electrical magic tricks as part of his carnival act. Lawrence then asks the out-of-work Dan to stay with him, so that he and Rigas can study him further. While Lawrence is away at a scientific convention, Rigas begins his mad experiments on the hapless Dan. Dan soon becomes completely dependent upon Rigas' gigantic doses of electricity. When Lawrence returns home and questions Rigas about his treatments, the insane assistant drugs him. That night, Rigas gives Dan a massive treatment of electricity, which turns him into a superhuman, radiating with electricity and completely under the mad doctor's control. To conserve Dan's energy, Rigas dresses him in a rubber suit that insulates his power. When Lawrence discovers what has happened and threatens to call the police, Rigas orders his monster to kill the good doctor. ... +


Carnival performer Dan McCormick is the sole survivor of a traffic accident that ends when the bus he is riding on crashes into an electricity tower. The doctors are amazed at Dan's condition, as he seems unaffected by the electricity that killed his fellow passengers. Dr. John Lawrence, an electro-biologist, asks Dan to visit him upon his release from the hospital. Back at his home, Lawrence argues with his assistant, Dr. Paul Rigas, about Rigas' obsession with developing a superior race of men who are fed and controlled by electricity. When reporter Mark Adams visits the Lawrence home, he is chastised by June, Lawrence's niece, for his flippant attitude toward Dan's accident. Lawrence tells Dan that he may have survived the accident because of his built-up immunity to electricity, which he probably developed performing electrical magic tricks as part of his carnival act. Lawrence then asks the out-of-work Dan to stay with him, so that he and Rigas can study him further. While Lawrence is away at a scientific convention, Rigas begins his mad experiments on the hapless Dan. Dan soon becomes completely dependent upon Rigas' gigantic doses of electricity. When Lawrence returns home and questions Rigas about his treatments, the insane assistant drugs him. That night, Rigas gives Dan a massive treatment of electricity, which turns him into a superhuman, radiating with electricity and completely under the mad doctor's control. To conserve Dan's energy, Rigas dresses him in a rubber suit that insulates his power. When Lawrence discovers what has happened and threatens to call the police, Rigas orders his monster to kill the good doctor. Rigas then de-electrifies Dan and tells him that he alone killed Lawrence. When June and Mark return from a date and discover Lawrence's body, the carnival performer confesses to the crime. After Dan's arrest, June tries to defend him to District Attorney Ralph D. Stanley, but is accused of being romantically attached to the confessed killer. June then announces her engagement to Mark, so Stanley agrees to examine Rigas' records. Back at the Lawrence lab, Rigas gives the district attorney a false impression of Dan's case, much to June and Mark's chagrin. At Dan's sanity hearing, Dan, who has aged drastically, is examined by a group of psychiatrists. Rigas is allowed to sit in on the examination, and his control over Dan keeps the carnival performer from telling the truth. Dan is declared sane by the doctors, and is convicted of murder and sentenced to the electric chair. Instead of killing him, however, the electrical jolts revive the weakened Dan, who then escapes the prison. After stealing a fisherman's rubber boots to conserve his energy, Dan heads back to the Lawrence laboratory. Meanwhile, Rigas finds June searching through his papers and proudly confesses all. Rigas then prepares June to be his second human experiment, only to be stopped at the last minute by Dan. Dan kills Rigas, puts on the rubber suit and carries June off just as the police arrive. Dan then becomes entangled in a barbed wire fence, and despite Mark's warnings, pushes through it, cutting his rubber suit and allowing all his electrical energy to dissipate through the fence. After Dan's death, Mark makes plans to write about Rigas' mad experiments, but June convinces him to throw the doctor's notebook away, so that no one else will be victimized like Dan. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.