Dr. Kramer (Helmut Kautner) is a German scientist who, with his assistant, Hillel Mondoro (David McCallum), is working on experiments using RNA (Ribonucleic Acid.) He is trying to develop a way of transferring someone’s memories from one person to another. Currently he is working with chimpanzees with some success. Kramer is approached by Joseph Slaughter (Leslie Nielsen) from the CIA.
Slaughter tells Kramer that an important scientist, Karl Helmuth Hauser, has been shot, while trying to defect, and is dying. Hauser had been a German physicist that worked for the Nazis and was arrested for treason. He was 'liberated' by the Russians, but then held captive after WWII by the Soviets. He was in the process of developing an intercontinental defense system for the Soviets that was far more advanced than anything America had. Now the secret is locked in Hauser’s head. The CIA wants Kramer to extract the RNA from Hauser’s brain and inject it into a host’s body. The hope is that the host’s brain will contain the memories of Hauser as well as their own. That way America can acquire the defense system instead of the Soviets.
With no appropriate host available, Kramer decides to use himself. Mondoro believes that the experiment is too dangerous to risk Kramer’s life, so he goes behind Kramer’s back and injects himself with Hauser’s memory. Mondoro begins having dreams, unusual thoughts and black outs. As Hauser’s thoughts begin to appear more and more Mondoro finds himself losing track of what are his memories and what are Houser’s.
Mondoro finds himself on a plane headed for Europe. Without knowing why, he begins following Houser’s lead. Houser is bent on revenge for horrible events that happened while he was under the rule of both the Soviets and the Nazis. As Mondoro travels from country to country all over Eastern Europe, the CIA follow him, letting him relive his experiences hoping that they will get what they are looking for. Unfortunately for Mondoro, the Russians believe the Houser’s memories belong to them and they want their property back.
“Hauser’s Memory” was released in 1970 and was directed by Boris Sagal. It is a made for television science fiction espionage thriller. The movie is based on a 1968 novel by Curt Siodmak which was based on Siodmak’s 1942 novel “Donovan’s Brain”. Siodmak wrote and or directed a ton of novels and movies. One theme he was particularly fond of was the concept of one person taking over the consciousness of another. He used that theme, in various ways, for “The Lady and the Monster” 1944, “Donovan’s Brain” 1953, “The Brain” 1962 and “Hauser’s Memory” 1970.
This time around, as “Hauser’s Memory”, the story was upgraded as a cold war thriller. Like a lot of espionage style movies, there are a lot of tangential characters, and it has a complicated plot line. I had to watch it twice to figure out who was who. I’m not sure I succeeded. Still, the movie is really good for made for TV film. Between the performances and the exotic locations, it looks very polished. McCallum does a good job of playing a tortured soul. Not only are Houser’s memories affecting his mind, but they are taking a toll on his body as well. His performance was exceptional.