The Mind of Mr. Soames

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The Mind of Mr Soames
"The Mind of Mr. Soames" (1970).jpg
Directed byAlan Cooke
Produced byMax Rosenberg
Milton Subotsky
Written byJohn Hale
Edward Simpson
Based onnovel by Charles Eric Maine
StarringTerence Stamp
Nigel Davenport
Robert Vaughn
Music byMichael Dress
CinematographyBilly Williams
Edited byBill Blunden
Production
company
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States[1]
LanguageEnglish

The Mind of Mr. Soames is a 1970 British-American sci-fidrama film directed by Alan Cooke and starring Terence Stamp, Robert Vaughn and Nigel Davenport.[1][2] The film is based on Charles Eric Maine's 1961 novel of the same name.[3][4]

Plot[edit]

The film tells the story of a thirty-year-old man (John Soames) who has been in a coma since a brain injury during birth. Now revived, he shows the behaviour of a child and is monitored by two doctors attempting to find out if he can be rehabilitated in the adult world. One doctor, Maitland, is only interested in educational activities and he works John until he stops interacting and refuses to eat. Another doctor suggests play for its own sake would have benefits and he brings a bouncy ball into John's room. John is soon interacting again and eating once more.

During all this time John has met no women. Eventually John is allowed outside into the natural world and he delights in it, drinking water from a pool by dipping his head in. Maitland finds out and returns John to his room. Again John becomes distressed. The men talk to him a great deal but John has fewer words, and although he appears to understand, when he is told to wait six months until he goes outside again, he does not know how long that will be.

John breaks free, having struck an orderly and knocked him out. John runs through woods until he reaches a river where he sleeps. The next day he sees a busy road for the first time. Luckily a man stops his car thinking he is a hitch-hiker. The man chats whilst John is silent. John gets out, finds a pub and steals some food. A woman offers him a drink but John spits it out. A man comes to help the barmaid, saying he owes money. John runs away. He passes a playground and takes a ball off the children who are playing. He runs away once again and it gets dark.

John steals a coat from a car parked outside someone's house. The owner shouts at him, John runs and is hit by a car. The couple stop and get him into their car. The woman wants to take him to a hospital but the man says they'll call the police (he has been drinking), so they drive John to their house. The woman puts him in the spare bedroom.

The next day the woman offers to clean him, and asks what he remembers. John says a few words and the woman thinks he is in shock. She suggests he was injured by a hit-and-run driver. John eats breakfast and the woman announces his name - she has seen a newspaper. She says he is wanted for attempted murder (the viewer knows by now that the orderly has recovered). She accepts that he was locked up by bad people. John touches her hair and she says she cannot recall the last time her husband was half as gentle.

The police come to the house and somehow John knows to leave/hide. He also manages to get a train ticket and uses money from the coat he has on. The doctors are still in pursuit. On the train John talks very slowly to a nervous teenaged girl with his limited vocabulary. The girl drops her violin and as John goes to help her he puts his hand on hers and the girl screams repeatedly. The train stops, John runs away and the girl says to a guard that John tried to attack her.

Eventually the police use dogs to follow John across the countryside to a barn. The doctors arrive. Maitland threatens to 'get angry' if he doesn't come out. The other doctor, Bergen, says to be calm. He goes in and speaks to John and realises John has hurt his leg (falling from the train). Bergen offers medicine from his car and says he won't force John to go with him, it is John's decision. John asks him not to go and then follows him out into the rain. Meanwhile, two young people from the institute are watching from a car. The man's hand is poised over a switch.

Suddenly a bright light dazzles John and the dogs start barking. In panic John spins round and round with the pitchfork he holds. He lets go and it spins out hitting Bergen. John cries out and collapses. People step forward and place him on a stretcher. Bergen is in pain but alright. Bergen's assistant gets into the van beside John and says his name kindly. John, who looks traumatised, gradually turns to look at him and reaches out a hand. Bergen's assistant takes it. They drive away leaving Maitland standing in the rain until the two students drive over to pick him up.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The Mind of Mr. Soames was an attempt by Amicus Productions to branch into the non-horror field (they had also tried to option the rights to Flowers for Algernon but had been unable to secure them). The large budget was provided by Columbia Pictures.[5]

Release[edit]

The film was released in theatres on 12 October 1970 in the United States, 26 March 1971 in Ireland, 18 June 1971 in Mexico. It was released on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on 4 March 2011.[6]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The Mind of Mr. Soames was a failure at the box office.[5]

Critical response[edit]

Roger Greenspun of The New York Times wrote in his review:

There are some movies that do nothing right, no matter how well they do it, and such a movie is The Mind of Mr. Soames, not that it does anything well. But with each scene, each camera movement, each gesture from its large and dispirited cast, The Mind of Mr. Soames, which opened yesterday at the Cinema 57 Rendezvous, displays an emptiness and a falseness of response that is beneath even the inadequacy of its ideas and the banality of its plot.

"John Soames (Terence Stamp), in a coma for all of his 30 years, is finally brought to life by the super surgery of Dr. Bergen (Robert Vaughn) so that he may be educated according to the theories of Dr. Maitland (Nigel Davenport), director of the institute where he had been peacefully sleeping. Between permissive Dr. Bergen and repressive Dr. Maitland a certain ideological conflict develops (e.g. "How often do you play—games—with him?" "Games? What do you mean, games!") that is the first and, I guess, final cause of the melodrama.

"But in the background there is a third doctor (Donal Donnelly), a source of hope who keeps his own counsel, patiently watches the wild child, and incidentally looks a bit like François Truffaut. The Mind of Mr. Soames is full of boldly introduced but ultimately undeveloped character clichés, which add a touch of bogus mystery to a film that is otherwise 100 per cent predictable. For example, Dr. Bergen drinks—too much—but nothing ever comes of it.

"And the callous TV director (Christian Roberts) who willfully almost wrecks Soames's belated childhood—what is his story, full of meaningless dark hints and fitful glimmerings? As Soames himself, a child of Frankenstein dressed in a mansized set of pink Dr. Dentons, without booties, Terence Stamp must have the best fun in the movie. Not only does he get to cry a lot and to play with toys, but he also is allowed at one time or another to dump baby food on all his doctors and keepers—with which inspiration The Mind of Mr. Soames exhausts itself and falls into moral platitude and heavy breathing.

— Roger Greenspan, Screen: Wild Child of 30:'Mind of Mr. Soames'[7]

Hal Erickson of Rovi wrote, on Rotten Tomatoes: "The Mind of Mr. Soames can be described as a melodramatic Charly. John Soames (Terence Stamp) is a hospital patient who has been in a coma for 30 years. Doctor Bergen (Robert Vaughn) attempts to revitalize Soames by transplanting an infant's brain in the patient's head. When Soames awakens, he has the mental capacity of a baby, but Dr. Bergen is certain that he can accelerate the maturation process, which he does in a matter of weeks. But the pressure on Soames' emotional stability is such that he tragically snaps during a live TV broadcast. Adapted from a novel by Charles Eric Maine, The Mind of Mr. Soames raises more questions than it can possibly answer, but works well on the level of solid science fiction."[8]

Note the review from Rotten Tomatos is incorrect as there was not an actual transplant of a babies' brain.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Mind of Mr. Soames (1969)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  2. ^ "The Mind of Mr. Soames". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  3. ^ Ashley 2005, p. 95.
  4. ^ Maine, Charles Eric (1961). The Mind of Mr. Soames (1st ed.). London: Hodder & Stoughton. ASIN B0000CL7EE.
  5. ^ a b Bryce 2000, p. 48.
  6. ^ "The Mind of Mr. Soames". Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Culver City, California: Sony Pictures Entertainment. 4 March 2011. ASIN B00460WJBI. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  7. ^ Greenspun, Roger (13 October 1970). "Screen: Wild Child of 30:'Mind of Mr. Soames' Stars Stamp". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  8. ^ Hal Erickson. "The Mind of Mr. Soames: Movie info". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 October 2018.

Sources[edit]

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