Lane's film purports to be based on a vintage self-commissioned Brinkley biography, written by Clement Wood, and in its opening reels Nuts! gets a little breathless championing the doctor's success. Luminaries descended on north-central Kansas for the treatment, including Rudolph Valentino and William Jennings Bryan. In the mid-1920s, Brinkley launched America's fourth radio station, and soon it was the most powerful in the world.
But then the American Medical Association came for him. Lane spins the first half of this story as a mostly straightforward bio-doc, with amusingly dry Kansas historians appearing between archival clips, scans of vintage newspapers and the occasional animated scene with invented dramatic dialogue. (And non-graphic goat sex.) The animation becomes more prominent as the bottom falls out of Brinkley's life in a lengthy, exciting courtroom sequence — he made the mistake of suing the noisiest of his critics for slander. In front of a judge and under tough questioning, the glands shrivel up entirely. Lane and screenwriter Thom Stylinski offer up a smart, theatrical précis of the testimony, in rousing scenes of cross-examination. The animation here has a grayscale, sketchlike look in keeping with newspaper illustrations of the trial itself.