Movie Review: Dr. Cyclops (1940)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1940 science fiction film starring Albert Dekker and Janice Logan.

Synopsis: A reputable but eccentric scientist invites a group of colleagues to his remote jungle laboratory to help them with a secret scientific experiment. When they refuse to leave, he believes they intend on stealing credit for his discoveries, shrinks them and holds them captive. At first, he only plans on studying them. However, when he learns the effects of his shrink ray are only temporary, he decides to kill them.


My oldest daughter and I had planned on watching "Scooby Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery" last night. However, Direct TV apparently had the TV schedule mixed up and I discovered I had recorded something completely different. As a result of this, we decided to watch our second choice instead, "Dr. Cyclops."

We've watched this movie before, about a year ago. But, my daughter liked it enough to want to watch it again. And, after seeing it a second time, I do still think it is a halfway decent movie.

While the special effects are somewhat limited (something that is to be expected because of when this movie was made), the plot of the film is actually pretty entertaining. One thing, in particular, I like about this movie is the doctor's (Dekker) invited colleagues aren't exactly that innocent in all of this. Even though he's wrong about them wanting to steal his research, they are interested in stealing the valuable mine he has discovered. So, in some ways, they do have what is coming to them and, because of that, there are times when he seems justified.

I also found I liked the various challenges the shrunken scientists faced, whether it was a hungry cat or a variety of jungle dangers. Simple tasks, like opening a door, required teamwork. 

In addition, unlike characters in plenty of other films, the group did their best to fight back rather than just hiding. One of their plans, involving trying to shoot the doctor while he slept, was really clever, even though it ultimately failed.

My biggest complaint about this movie had to be the music. This, in itself, wasn't a huge deal except for the fact it seemed to be constant and kept getting louder. After a while, I was seriously considering watching the movie with the sound off just to avoid listening to it and wish they would have cut back on it a bit.

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Final Opinion

Other than the music, this is a surprising good film that is worth taking the time to watch at least once. I do recommend it if you're looking for a classic science fiction/mad scientist movie to watch.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 01/16/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/28/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The library system does not have Dr Cyclops among its Blu-ray and DVD collections. But it does have the 446-page book, Science-fiction classics: the stories that morphed into movies, from 1999. So I must settle for that for the time being.

How would Dr Cyclops fare as a colorized reboot or remake with, of course, different music?

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