Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Dr. Gillespie's Criminal Case (1943) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

DR. GILLESPIE'S CRIMINAL CASE (1942) is a middling entry in MGM's Dr. Gillespie series, available in a six-film set from the Warner Archive.

Donna Reed returns as Marsha Blackburn, the wealthy young lady she had played in CALLING DR. GILLESPIE (1942). When Marsha was last seen, her insane fiance Roy (Phil Brown) was headed for prison for murder.

This time around Roy is played by John Craven, and he's still nuts. Dr. Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore) checks in on him because Marsha's planning to marry an army sergeant (Michael Duane), and the good doctor wants to make sure Marsha's fully over her bad experience and that Roy won't cause any problems.

Van Johnson and Keye Luke, both introduced in DR. GILLESPIE'S NEW ASSISTANT (1942), are still competing for the official title as Dr. Gillespie's righthand man. (Why he doesn't just name them both his assistant is beyond me.) Both actors are engaging, whether Luke is lightheartedly exclaiming "I'm terrific!" or Johnson is stunned by his good fortune at being pursued by luscious Marilyn Maxwell.

Dr. Gillespie and Nurse Molly Byrd become involved in the case of a veteran (William Lundigan) who lost his legs at Pearl Harbor and refuses to answer his girlfriend's loving letters, and Dr. Gillespie and the interns also work to save the lives of four little girls, including cute Margaret O'Brien in an early role.

The cast makes it worthwhile but the story lines about Roy and the letters leave something to be desired. That said, I always enjoy spending time with this series.

Additional regular cast members who appear in this entry are Marie Blake, Nat Pendleton, Walter Kingsford, Nell Craig, and Barbara Bedford. Incidentally, Marilyn Maxwell would go on to appear in both Van Johnson's other films in the series.

Frances Rafferty has a nice, though brief, scene at a dance at the start of the movie. The cast also includes Henry Daniell, Herb Vigran, Grant Withers, Aileen Pringle, Irene Tedrow, Robert Emmett O'Connor, Milton Kibbee, and Roy Barcroft.

This 89-minute film was directed by Willis Goldbeck and filmed in black and white by Norbert Brodine.

The Warner Archive print is very nice, and the disc includes the trailer.

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 at the Warner Archive site are traditionally replicated (pressed) rather than burned on demand.


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