Movie Review: Black Friday (1940)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1940 black and white film starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.

Synopsis: A brain surgeon transplants part of a gangster's brain into his dying friend in an effort to save his life. When the surgeon realizes his friend retained some of the gangster's memories, he decides to use it to his advantage and locate $500,000 in stolen loot that was hidden. However, his friend's condition worsens and he develops a split personality.


I pre-cooked our dinner in the slow cooker today and, since we had some extra time this afternoon, I ended up watching a movie with my oldest daughter. After a short debate, we picked the movie Black Friday because we are both big Boris Karloff/Bela Lugosi fans. Unfortunately, this movie turned out not to be as good as we hoped it would be.

The overall premise of the film wasn't a bad one, albeit a bit predictable. And, to be fair, Ridges does a good job pulling off the split personality, even changing his appearance just enough to make it clear which personality was showing. That's not something that is overly easy and I've only seen a small group of actors that were able to pull that off without requiring a great deal of makeup.

The problem with this movie is it is actually kind of boring. There's really not a whole lot of suspense and the action is kind of limited.

Probably the most exciting scene in the entire movie is when the gangster's former gang follows him in an effort to find the money and corners him. But, even that part of the movie was pretty predictable and it wasn't too hard to guess what was going to happen next. Plus, once that scene was over, the movie started dragging on again.

Another major issue with this film is the way the various actors were used. Karloff was cast as the surgeon and Lugosi played a gangster and, while they weren't awful in those roles, I do think the movie would have worked better had that been reversed or if Lugosi was the surgeon and Karloff was playing the split personality role.

Black Friday

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Final Opinion

This movie, at least from the description, has the potential to be a somewhat decent thriller. However, mostly because of a major lack of action and some questionable casting decisions, it just fails to live up to that potential. I normally like movies that team up Karloff and Lugosi but this is one movie that even that pairing fails to save.

My Grade: D

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Updated: 06/12/2015, StevenHelmer
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