The Dr. Kildare character, created by Max Brand, was first played onscreen by Joel McCrea in the Paramount film INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY (1937).
In 1938 the character moved over to MGM, debuting in YOUNG DR. KILDARE, and the series was such a success that it continued for nearly a decade. Lew Ayres left the series after DR. KILDARE'S VICTORY (1942), but the series kept going for several more films, with Lionel Barrymore continuing to star as crochety Dr. Gillespie. The series finally concluded with DARK DELUSION in 1947.
Dr. Kildare works hard, learning while earning the princely sum of $20 a month plus a room in the hospital. Blair's brilliant but eccentrically cranky Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore) terrorizes the interns as much as he teaches them.
Dr. Kildare becomes involved in the case of a suicidal young woman (Jo Ann Sayers) diagnosed by an eminent psychiatrist (Monty Woolley) as mentally ill; Dr. Kildare believes she's perfectly healthy, other than dealing with a problem she won't discuss, and he attempts to learn the truth.
YOUNG DR. KILDARE was quite an entertaining film, although there are a couple of odd things plotwise, such as Kildare not reporting a fatal mistake by ambulance driver Joe (Nat Pendleton). It's hard to imagine such unethical behavior in this day and age, yet it was breezed right over, seeming to instead illustrate that the young doctor is a nice guy.
Many of the actors mentioned above remained with the series long term. Other long-running characters introduced here are Marie Blake as Sally, the switchboard operator, and Walter Kingsford as Dr. Carew, head of the hospital. Blake, the sister of Jeanette MacDonald, later appeared as Grandmama Addams on THE ADDAMS FAMILY, acting under her real married name, Blossom Rock.
The interns in this initial film include Don "Red" Barry, Don Castle, and Phillip Terry. Bess Flowers appears as a nurse.
YOUNG DR. KILDARE was directed by Harold S. Bucquet and filmed by John F. Seitz. It runs 82 minutes.
There's a cute tag after "The End" in which Lionel Barrymore and Lew Ayres announce to audiences that there are more Dr. Kildare films on the way. I'll be reviewing additional Dr. Kildare films from this set in the future.
The Dr. Kildare Movie Collection is a nine-film, five-disc set. The set also contains trailers and an unaired early '60s Dr. Kildare TV pilot, also with Lew Ayres.
A Dr. Gillespie Movie Collection, featuring the films released in the series after Ayres' departure, is due out from the Warner Archive soon; I noticed the cover recently in my Twitter feed! The young doctors in the post-Ayres era include Van Johnson and Keye Luke.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website. Please note that the initial sets of this series sold at the Warner Archive site are traditionally replicated (pressed) rather than burned on demand.