“You never can tell what a man will do when his mind’s affected.”
A former college football hero (Rondo Hatton) disfigured in a chemistry accident seeks revenge on those he feels wronged by, and befriends a sympathetic blind pianist (Jane Adams).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Disfigured Faces
- Serial Killers
Best known for providing disfigured actor Rondo Hatton with his one and only leading role, The Brute Man is viewed by many as a campy B-movie pleasure, and has been spoofed by the MST3K crew (it’s available to watch in this format on YouTube). Running for less than an hour, it’s an economically made, competently filmed police procedural with atmospheric cinematography (by Maury Gertsman) and an inherent sense of pathos, given what we know about Hatton’s tragic existence (he developed acromegaly as an adult, and gradually became more and more disfigured, which afforded him a career as a “natural” monster in Hollywood).
Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how you look at it — certain elements of the screenplay are handled in such a ludicrously unbelievable fashion that the film never really “works” as a realistic thriller: the Brute Man’s first encounter with an impossibly kind blind pianist (Adams), for instance, defies belief on all levels (there’s no way any woman would automatically trust a gravelly voiced stranger entering her apartment, to the point that two minutes later, she covers for him in a lie with the police).
Nonetheless, film fanatics may be curious to check this film out simply to see Hatton — who does a serviceable job in the role.
Note: Click here to read more about an award named in honor of Hatton.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine noir-ish cinematography by Maury Gertsma
No, though you may want to check it out simply for its historical interest. Listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book.