Tuesday, February 03, 2015

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

Dr. Jimmy Kildare tries to solve a medical mystery involving his future brother-in-law in DR. KILDARE'S CRISIS (1940), the sixth film in the Warner Archive's Dr. Kildare Movie Collection.

Doug (played by "The Guest Star Robert Young"), the brother of Nurse Mary Lamont (Laraine Day), comes for a visit. Doug's acting strangely, hearing sounds which aren't there, and Dr. Kildare eventually diagnoses epilepsy. Mary is so concerned that she might also have this hereditary condition, or give it to their children, that she cancels her engagement to Dr. Kildare.

This is a fast-moving and entertaining entry in the series, though the medical aspects of the film are bizarre from the modern perspective; actually, that's part of what makes it so entertaining. Epilepsy can lead to insanity?! Who knew?! Some Googling shows that at one time they apparently were considered to be related conditions, but whether that was actually the case in 1940 I'll leave to medical professionals. The textbook passages Jimmy reads on what's referred to as a "dread disease" were certainly interesting.

Also unusual was Dr. Gillespie's advice to a middle-aged man (Frank Sully) to stop playing sports with his kids and exercising -- it seems that at middle age exercise is bad for the heart!

Ultimately Dr. Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore) figures out Doug's real problem. Dr. Kildare might have figured it out if he'd taken a thorough professional history, but his eyes were clouded by concern for Mary and her brother, and Doug held back the key information out of fear. That last point is a little odd, however, because Doug is so traumatized by the diagnosis of epilepsy that the issue in his medical history would seem tame by comparison, and you'd also think he might have connected the dots.

DR. KILDARE'S CRISIS was directed by Harold S. Bucquet. It was filmed in black and white by John F. Seitz. The running time is 75 minutes.

Dr. Kildare's parents are absent from this film, but the other regulars are on hand, including Nat Pendleton, Alma Kruger, Nell Craig, Walter Kingsford, George Reed, Marie Blake, and Frank Orth; Pierre Watkin also returns in his semiregular role as a generous donor and Bobs Watson reprises his role as Tommy, a crippled boy. Gladys Blake (no relation to Marie) joins the cast as Maisie, the public address system operator; she appeared in two additional films in the series.

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), DR. KILDARE'S STRANGE CASE (1940), and DR. KILDARE GOES HOME (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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