TIMES SQUARE LADY, WEST POINT OF THE AIR, MURDER IN THE FLEET (airing on TCM in May), and BROADWAY MELODY OF 1936, culminating in his major starring role in MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, released in late December. From that point on, Taylor was one of MGM's most popular stars.
SOCIETY DOCTOR is a very diverting film, not least because it's a fascinating opportunity to see MGM's star-making machine at work. Taylor ostensibly is the second male lead, with Chester Morris starring in the picture, yet it's Taylor who has the most appealing role and it's Taylor the audience roots for. One can almost imagine the fan mail that poured into MGM after this film was released, asking to see more of the handsome, genial Mr. Taylor. Indeed, an article at TCM notes Taylor's increased fan mail led to bigger roles.
Taylor plays a dedicated hospital intern, with Morris as the top intern who likes to rock the boat when dealing with the hospital administration. Morris ignores the love of nurse Virginia Bruce, because he's focused on his career and can't afford to support a wife. Taylor, meanwhile, wants to offer Bruce everything Morris won't, including love and a wedding ring, but the silly girl is hung up on Morris.
'30s hospital films are often a bit unintentionally amusing for modern audiences, and this movie is no exception. There's a classic surgery scene where Morris, who was shot by a gangster, insists on only having a spinal and watching the surgery with a mirror so he can give Taylor directions. It's priceless.
This was also the second hospital film seen this month where characters light matches on a hospital's "No Smoking" sign. I wonder if there are other films which used this bit of business?
This wasn't one of Morris's better roles, but on the other hand I liked Virginia Bruce much more in this than in TIMES SQUARE LADY, viewed last night.
In the supporting cast I particularly enjoyed Louise Henry as the sassy hospital telephone operator. She retired from films in 1939. If IMDb is accurate, Miss Henry is still living and will celebrate her 99th birthday in a couple of months.
Billie Burke, Raymond Walburn, Henry Kolker, and Donald Meek are also in the cast. The film was directed by George B. Seitz. It runs 67 minutes.
SOCIETY DOCTOR can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. You can see the rather entertaining trailer here.