TV Cream

Films: B is for...

Brain, The

The Franco-Italian brainchild of Dino de Laurentiiiiiiiiiis, wherein David Niven plays the criminal mastermind of a money train robbery carried out by Jean-Paul Belmondo and Bourvil (but no Moustache or Fernandel, sadly for fans of singlularly-named European actors). It’s an enjoyably convoluted caper, even if, like Casino Royale, it inevitably descends into incomprehensibility (it was filmed simultaneously in English and French, and probably makes about as much sense in either).

The lavish budget incorporates plenty of tourist board-approved footage of Euro locations, including a pinstriped Niven boldly striding about Carnaby Sreet in the full flush of its military jacket pomp. The humour is mostly sub-Tati slapstick – cars explode, inflatable chairs propel Niven round a swimming pool in sped-up time; Niven’s brain is so heavy his head periodically tilts to one side with the weight, accompanied by a comedy noise, and best of all Niven’s exposition of the robbery is done via a dodgy animation of himself, in military gear, which gets into cross-talk with the real Brain in time-honoured “what a handsome chap!” style. As with Royale, there’s a great piece of squelchy pop-psychedelia for the theme, by The American Breed.



  1. mark

    March 30, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Loved this film as a child used to be on tv quite a bit in the english version back in the 70’s. Now cannot get to see this film for love nor money, shame :(. Come on people release this film on dvd in english. i would love to see it again. If anyone knows any different let me know.

  2. George White

    April 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    like After The Fox, Grand Slam, a heist film that is slightly entertaining, extremely colourful but utterly forgettable. One of Niven’s various follies around this time, Casino Royale, Prudence and the Pill, Where The Spies Are… There is a weird cartoon interlude. A lot of these heist movies, e.g. the Italian Job, I liked them as a kid. But they’re like cakes. Big sugary delights you love as a kid, but then as an adult, are so incomprehensible, they overwhelm you until you get violently sick.

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