Friday, January 08, 2016

Tonight's Movie: 3 Men in White (1944) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Time to return to the Warner Archive's Dr. Gillespie Movie Collection! 3 MEN IN WHITE (1944) is the fourth of the six films in the set.

Not much has changed since the last film, DR. GILLESPIE'S CRIMINAL CASE (1943). Two young doctors, Red Adams and Lee Wong Howe (Van Johnson and Keye Luke) are still competing for the title of assistant to Dr. Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore), and Dr. Adams is still being chased by wealthy, gorgeous Ruth Edley (Marilyn Maxwell), but shies away at the thought of marriage.

It's a bit of a sleepy entry, enlivened by the presence of another gorgeous young actress, Ava Gardner, in her first substantial role. She previously had a noticeable bit role in CALLING DR. GILLESPIE (1942), and a few days ago I watched her in an affecting small part in HITLER'S MADMAN (1943) released the same year as 3 MEN IN WHITE.

Gardner's "drunk" scene is a bit silly -- her voice is almost unrecognizably high-pitched -- but she was stunning to look at and had a real "presence" even at that young age, without much hint of the polished actress she would soon become. The fun of watching an early Gardner is part of the reason the Dr. Gillespie set has such value.

The basic problem with this film's storyline is that the continuing competition between Red and Lee to be Dr. Gillespie's assistant feels manufactured. They're both very talented, and it seems silly that Dr. Gillespie doesn't just simply say that they're both his assistants and leave it at that. With such a good cast, one wishes they had more compelling material to work with.

Still, it's always pleasant to stop in at Blair General Hospital, where it's like spending time with old friends. Series regulars who appear in this entry include Alma Kruger, Nell Craig, George Reed, and Walter Kingsford. Rags Ragland plays an orderly this time around, in a part similar to that played in some of the films by Nat Pendleton.

3 MEN IN WHITE runs 85 minutes. It was directed by Willis Goldbeck and filmed in black and white by Ray June.

The trailer is included on the DVD.

Previous reviews of films in the Dr. Gillespie Collection: CALLING DR. GILLESPIE (1942), DR. GILLESPIE'S NEW ASSISTANT (1942), and DR. GILLESPIE'S CRIMINAL CASE (1943).

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 from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop. Please note that the initial sets of this series sold by the WB shop will be traditionally replicated (pressed) rather than burned on demand.

2 Comments:

Blogger Clayton Walter said...

I love these! I'm also a fan of The Crime Doctor and Dr. Kildare. What a super-fun review...I really have to get on these Warner Archive releases. What a treat. Apparently I'm related to the Barrymores through my maternal grandmother...is it true? Who knows, but it's a fun bit of family mysthology, wot?

Clayton @ Phantom Empires

2:39 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Clayton, what fun about the Barrymores, would be neat if you could find out more. I always enjoy spending time at Blair General Hospital!

Hope to check out the Crime Doctor before long, I suspect I'll enjoy that series as well.

Best wishes,
Laura

7:42 PM  

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