Friday, January 09, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Dr. Kildare Goes Home (1940) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

DR. KILDARE GOES HOME (1940) is the very enjoyable fifth entry in the Dr. Kildare Movie Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

In this episode Dr. Jimmy Kildare (Lew Ayres) has just graduated from his internship at Blair General Hospital and been awarded a position as staff physician, continuing to assist famed diagnositican Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore). He's also in a position to finally set a wedding date with pretty Nurse Mary Lamont (Laraine Day).

Jimmy's plans are interrupted, however, by news of his doctor father's (Samuel S. Hinds) declining health due to overwork. It seems the doctors have all left a neighboring poor community as they could not survive financially, and the senior Dr. Kildare feels obligated to help. Dr. Stephen Kildare is no longer a young man and is exhausted by the patient load, so Jimmy pitches in while trying to come up with a permanent solution.

One of the things I especially liked about this story was that in previous films the younger Dr. Kildare too often skirts medical ethics or makes decisions reflecting poor judgement. That's absent from this plotline, which makes for a better film and a more sympathetic lead character.

There are a couple of very interesting things about the film from an historical standpoint. The first aspect is that Jimmy arrives at a plan where some struggling young doctors can make it financially serving the poor community if everyone in the town pays a dime a week and they also focus on preventive care. In essence they create a community HMO, which was rather interesting to see in a film released 75 years ago.

Another notable scene had Dr. Gillespie anxious to watch the work of an eminent specialist, who is performing the operation in an apartment, as the patient is too ill to move. When the famed doctor removes his cap and mask it proves to be a black physician, which was not the norm for a film in 1940. The inclusion of this scene was also a bit curious as it had nothing to do with the plot, so perhaps the filmmakers included it simply to make a point.

Later films in the series would prominently feature an Asian physician (Keye Luke) so I think it may be said that the Kildare and Gillespie films played a positive role in breaking down racial barriers for audiences of the '40s.

Additional regular cast members appearing in this entry are Emma Dunn, Nat Pendleton, Alma Kruger, Nell Craig, Walter Kingsford, Tom Collins, George Reed, Marie Blake, Barbara Bedford, and Frank Orth.

Guest stars in this film included Gene Lockhart and John Shelton (seen with cast at right). Donald Briggs and Leona Maricle play a couple convinced by Dr. Kildare that the cure for their marital woes is to have a child.

DR. KILDARE GOES HOME was directed by Harold S. Bucquet and shot by Harold "Hal" Rosson. It runs 79 minutes.

Previously reviewed films also available in the Warner Archive's Dr. Kildare Movie Collection: YOUNG DR. KILDARE (1938), CALLING DR. KILDARE (1939), THE SECRET OF DR. KILDARE (1939), and DR. KILDARE'S STRANGE CASE (1940).

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.


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