Saturday, February 01, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Dr. Broadway (1942) at UCLA

Tonight I had the opportunity to pay the first of what I hope will be several visits to UCLA's Anthony Mann Festival, which opened last night.

Tonight's double bill consisted of two early "B" movies directed by Mann.

The second half of the double bill was a chance for me to revisit TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE (1945), which I first saw in the summer of 2010, thanks to Turner Classic Movies. It was a treat for me to see this fast-paced 68-minute film again on a big screen in a beautiful print. It stars favorites Tom Conway and Ann Rutherford, with Jane Greer (billed "Bettejane") in a significant supporting role.

The evening started off with Mann's very first film, the very entertaining DR. BROADWAY, with Macdonald Carey in the title role.

DR. BROADWAY is Dr. Timothy Kane (Carey), a handsome young doctor with an office in Times Square. Dr. Kane was sent to medical school by various "characters" in the area after his father, a newspaper columnist, died when he was young; these Runyon-esque types continue to watch out for the good doctor's well-being years later, especially when mobster Vic Telli (Eduardo Ciannelli, billed Edward here) gets out of jail early and comes looking for Dr. Kane.

Meanwhile, the doctor also becomes involved with Connie (Jean Phillips), a young woman who threatens to jump off a window ledge in what turns out to be a publicity stunt.

This 67-minute film's fast pacing and great visual style are apparent from the moment the opening credits begin, and the pace never lets up. The creatively designed credits sequence is just the beginning of a film which provides great entertainment value.

Among the best sequences: a nightclub clearing out when Dr. Kane shows up to meet Vic Telli, with the built-up tension unexpectedly defused when Telli offers Kane a cigar; and a night court sequence with the judge (Thomas Ross) and assorted newspapermen highly amused by Dr. Kane's melodramatic plea for leniency toward Connie. The climax is also fun, with all Dr. Kane's Times Square friends springing into action on his behalf.

There's a cast of wonderful faces, starting with Richard Lane as Police Sgt. Doyle. It's a familiar type of role for Lane, who plays Inspector Farraday in the Boston Blackie series. Joan Woodbury (CRASHING HOLLYWOOD) and Gerald Mohr are among the crooks.

The many charactor actors who pop up in the film include Olin Howlin in a particularly nice role as "the Professor," plus Mary Gordon, Warren Hymer, J. Carrol Naish, Frank Bruno, Jay Novello, Spencer Charters, Milton Kibbee, and Sid Melton.

This was just Macdonald Carey's second film, following TAKE A LETTER, DARLING (1942). The next year he would play the earnest young detective in Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943). There's quite a bit more about Carey and his long career in a centennial birthday tribute I posted in his honor in March 2013.

This is one of the last films in the short career of Jean Phillips, who was onscreen from 1940-42, mainly in bit roles. She reminded me strongly of Ginger Rogers at times, and indeed, an enthusiastic Mystery File review of the film by David L. Vineyard refers to her as Ginger's stand-in.

DR. BROADWAY was shot in black and white by Theodor Sparkuhl. The Art Arthur screenplay was based on a novel by Borden Chase. Chase wrote the script for Mann's BEND OF THE RIVER (1952), one of my favorite '50s Westerns -- which, curiously, isn't being shown in the UCLA series.

This Paramount film is a tough one to track down. I've wanted to see it for a few years now and am glad I finally had the opportunity thanks to UCLA!


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