Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"Mind of Mr. Soames" tells story of surgical miracle

Cleveland Press October 1, 1970

I was prepared not to like "The Mind of Mr. Soames" but found myself fairly engrossed in what turned out to be a pretty compelling movie. For one thing the whole idea sounded a bit too much like "Charly" and how often will the same idea work twice.

Both are science fiction of sorts, "Charly" being involved with the training of a retarded mind into the mind of a genius. "Mind of Mr. Soames" starts further back, is about a man of 30 who has been in a coma since birth and who is brought to consciousness through surgery.

The result is an adult male with mind and responses of a baby. What follows is "Charly" without the sentiment, a rather intriguing enactment of an adult going through a cram course to catch up on 30 years.

TERENCE STAMP is excellent as Soames, a man who at first whimpers and cries like the baby he is and later -- through reasonably subtle shadings of characterization -- is a man awakening to the world around him.

Nigel Davenport as the doctor who heads the institution where Soames has been kept alive all these years by keeping him -- literally -- in a refrigerator has worked out an elaborate training program. The program leans heavily on discipline, almost repressive discipline.

REPRESENTING another viewpoint and thereby dramatizing the conflict is Robert Vaughn as an American surgeon (the movie is English) who has restored Soames to consciousness.

He believes that a child will learn faster with a little affection, sympathizes with Soames' longing to see the world outside his barred windows.

Making the venality of Davenport even more apparent is the constant presence of television cameras with his permission and encouragement to record the triumph he is sure will be his.

INEVITABLY Soames escapes, a man-child in an unpromised land; a world filled with speeding autos, trains; with adults who do not look upon him as a child. His tantrums may be those of a baby but they give him the appearance of a snarling madman.

The conclusion fizzles rather than explodes but in spite of an inconclusive ending, "Soames" is a movie that remains inventive throughout.