Black Friday (1940 film)

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Black Friday
Directed byArthur Lubin
Screenplay by
CinematographyElwood Bredell
Edited byPhilip Cahn
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • February 29, 1940 (1940-02-29) (Chicago)
  • April 12, 1940 (1940-04-12) (United States)
Running time
70 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

Black Friday is a 1940 American science fiction gangster psychological thriller starring Boris Karloff.[3] Béla Lugosi, although second-billed, has only a small part in the film and does not appear with Karloff. Writer Curt Siodmak would revisit this theme again in Donovan's Brain (1953) and Hauser's Memory (1970).[4]


The famous Dr. Ernest Sovac's best friend, bookish college professor George Kingsley, is run down while crossing a street. In order to save his friend's life, Sovac implants part of another man's brain into the professor's. Unfortunately, the other man was a gangster who was involved in the accident. The professor recovers but at times behaves like the gangster, and his whole personality changes. Sovac is horrified but also intrigued, because the gangster has hidden $500,000 somewhere in the city. The doctor continues to treat his friend and, when the professor is under the influence of the gangster's brain, Sovac attempts to have the man lead him to the fortune. Béla Lugosi plays a gangster also trying to get his hands on the cash.



The original story treatment was titled Friday the Thirteenth before being changed to Black Friday.[5] It cast Lugosi as the doctor and Karloff as the professor. For unknown reasons, Karloff insisted on playing the doctor. Rather than a straight switch though, Lugosi was given the minor role of a rival gangster, while character actor Stanley Ridges was brought in to play the professor.[6]

The film provided a rare opportunity for Ridges.[6][7]


Black Friday had its world premiere in Chicago on February 29, 1940.[1] Black Friday was released theatrically April 12, 1940 where it was distributed by Universal Pictures.[2][1] Black Friday was released on a DVD as part of The Bela Lugosi Collection on September 6, 2005.[8] Dave Kehr of The New York Times noted that the compilation compiled The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray and Black Friday on a single disc, stating that the video quality is acceptable but contained "a lot of video compression"[9]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c "Black Friday". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Weaver, Brunas & Brunas 2007, p. 214.
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal. "Black Friday (1940)". allmovie. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  4. ^ Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster, Tomohawk Press 2011 p 256-257
  5. ^ Wilt, David (1991). Hardboiled in Hollywood. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press. ISBN 978-0-879-72525-9.
  6. ^ a b DVD Savant review
  7. ^ MSN Movies
  8. ^ Mank 2011, p. 618.
  9. ^ Kehr, David (September 2, 2005). "Classic DVD Sets Star Lugosi and Garbo". The New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2017.


  • Mank, Gregory William (2011). Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. McFarland. ISBN 0786454725.
  • Weaver, Tom; Brunas, Michael; Brunas, John (2007). Universal Horrors (2 ed.). McFarland. ISBN 0786491507.

External links[edit]