The Man Without a Body – UK | USA, 1957 – overview and reviews

‘A diabolical dream come true!’

The Man Without a Body is a 1957 British-American science-fiction horror feature film about a rich financier who revives the head of Nostradamus. The financier wants to use Nostradamus’ power of prediction to help run his business and thereby gain more power.

Directed by Charles Saunders and W. Lee Wilder (Killers from Space; The Snow Creature; Phantom from Space) from a screenplay written by William Grote, the Filmplays Ltd production stars Robert Hutton, (Trog; The Vulture; The Slime People; et al), George Coulouris (The Antichrist; Tower of Evil; Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb), Julia Arnall (Ghost Squad TV series) and Nadja Regin (Goldfinger; From Russia with Love).

The movie was shot back-to-back with Filmways’ Womaneater which also stars George Coulouris.

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“The scene where they try to convince Nostradamus that he’s actually a 20th-century industrialist is just too weird; that the actors get through it straight-faced is remarkable.” Down Among the “Z” Movies

“On a purely technical level, I have no problem with this movie; it’s a competent low-budget feature in this regard. The script is something else again. Between the incredibly demented storyline and the jaw-droppingly bad dialogue, one can only marvel that the actors were able to keep a straight face throughout this one.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“The film has a madness of concept that is cheerfully ridiculous […] Despite the lunacy of the writing, W. Lee Wilder plugs away at it with a monotonous B-movie dreariness that fails to give any of it life. And as it goes on, it becomes apparent that the film makes no real sense.” Moria

“The movie doesn’t really have much excuse for cheap effects either when the majority of what happens is people talking in laboratories or offices. The head looks waxy and fake, which I think might be the point, though I’m not sure. The monster at the end though just looks pretty ridiculous, like he’s got a refrigerator balancing on his head.” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

“Nostradamus doesn’t seem to be all that amazed to have been awakened after all those years, though one might argue that he saw it coming all along. He’s even quite chummy with the doc who revives him and seems rather fascinated by all of this. More interesting, however, is his antagonism with Brussard, which is kind of funny…” Oh, the Horror!

“This is an odd, little film, which doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with its discordant elements.  You can’t really call it mad scientist film – and it is too strange to really call it a brain movie, tank or no tank.  It really needed to be a little crazier – or perhaps, a bit more straight-faced serious.” Rivets on the Poster

” …keeps things moving along at a rattling rate, so the viewer doesn’t get much time to dwell on the plot holes, dodgy science and sheer lunacy of the premise.” The Spooky Isles

“This confused and confusing tale might just have survived its lack of logical plotting and paper-thin characterisation had Wilder had a dash of the Corman verve with which to pull it off. Unfortunately, he was simply out of his league and what he lacks in peace, he tries to make up in bad taste…” John Hamilton, X-Cert: The British Independent Horror Film: 1951 – 1970

Buy: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

“This is a wild one. The plot is far fetched and has a couple of big holes, but the ambition of The Man Without a Body is very inspiring. Directed by W. Lee Wilder, this film will gratify any B movie fan.” Zisi Emporium for B Movies

Cast and characters:

  • Robert Hutton … Doctor Phil R. Merritt
  • George Coulouris … Karl Brussard
  • Julia Arnall … Jean Cramer
  • Nadja Regin … Odette Vernet
  • Sheldon Lawrence … Doctor Lew Waldenhouse
  • Peter Copley … Leslie
  • Michael Golden … Nostradamus
  • Norman Shelley … Doctor Alexander
  • Stanley Van Beers … Madame Tussaud’s Guide (as Stanley van Beers)
  • Tony Quinn … Doctor Brandon
  • Maurice Kaufmann … Chauffer (as Maurice Kaufman)
  • William Sherwood … Doctor Charot
  • Edwin Ellis … Publican
  • Donald Morley … Stock Broker
  • Frank Forsyth … Detective

Filming locations:

Twickenham Studios and central London

Technical details:

  • 80 minutes
  • Audio: Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
  • Black and white
  • Aspect ratio: 1.75: 1

Budget:

£20,000

Notes:

Although credited as co-director, Saunders’ name was allegedly just used to ensure the British quota for funding purposes and Wilder directed all the movie.

Original title:

The Curse of Nostradamus

Image credits: Coulouris.net | The Spooky Isles

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