Film (1940). Columbia Pictures Corporation. Produced by Irving Briskin and Wallace MacDonald (uncredited). Directed by Nick Grinde (as Nick Grindé). Written by Karl Brown from an original story by Harold Shumate. Cast includes Boris Karloff, Roger Pryor and Jo Ann Sayers. 74 minutes. Black and white.
Dr Tim Mason (Pryor) is working on Cryogenic treatment of chronic medical problems, continuing the work of the vanished Dr Leon Kravaal (Karloff). As his work has brought unwanted attention to his university, Mason is encouraged to take time off, and with nurse Judith Blair (Sayers) travel to investigate Dr Kravaal's disappearance ten years before. Kravaal owned a house on a small lake island when he vanished, along with the local sheriff and district attorney. Obtaining permission to stay at the home, Mason and Judith find a hidden passage which leads to a secret laboratory in a sub-basement. There, Kravaal and four others including the sheriff and DA are frozen in Suspended Animation. Reviving Kravaal, they learn that he was charged with murder for freezing a terminal cancer patient by the Sheriff, and so placed all of them in suspended animation. It develops that the process does cure the illness when the patient is revived, but another character destroys Kravaal's notes, leading the doctor to use the others as test subjects in order to recreate the process. Kravaal is killed at the climax, inevitably taking the knowledge of the cure with him.
As in several other star roles of this period to which Karloff lent respectability, in particular The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), he plays a basically decent man driven to madness by reactionary authorities. The Man With Nine Lives has more in common with the Gothic vengeance genre than outright sf. [GFi]
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