Thursday, May 21, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Internes Can't Take Money (1937) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea star in the early Dr. Kildare film INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY (1937).

The movie is part of the Barbara Stanwyck Collection, released last week by Kino Lorber.

Also in the new set are another film Stanwyck made with McCrea, THE GREAT MAN'S LADY (1942), along with THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS (1946) costarring Robert Cummings.

While all three films were part of a 2010 Stanwyck DVD set, with INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY also having a Universal Vault DVD release a few years after that, this is the first time for the movies to be released on Blu-ray. The two Stanwyck-McCrea films in the set also have brand-new commentary tracks by Eloise Ross.

I first saw INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY exactly a decade ago this month. What a treat to revisit it on this pristine Blu-ray! The disc does a marvelous job showing off the movie's visual eye candy, from the gleaming white, window-filled Art Deco Mountview Hospital to the dark rain-soaked streets...and yes, I'll include the young, handsome Mr. McCrea on that list of visual treats as well.

This film was the first screen appearance for the character created by Max Brand, Dr. Jimmy Kildare (McCrea). Paramount Pictures only featured the character in this single film; the following year Lew Ayres starred YOUNG DR. KILDARE (1938) for MGM, which proved to be a long-running series for that studio.

Dr. Kildare meets Janet Haley (Stanwyck) when he treats her minor burn in the hospital clinic. They're clearly attracted to one another, but she's preoccupied with trying to find the little girl her gangster husband hid from her before he died, and she's not about to share the details of her dark past and her problems with the handsome doctor.

Mobster Dan Innes (Stanley Ridges) might know where the child is, but he'll only part with the information for $1000, which Janet doesn't have...but he's also willing to take Janet's, shall we say, personal services.

Kildare, meanwhile, finds himself unexpectedly operating on another gangster, Hanlon (Lloyd Nolan), in the back room of a bar. With MacGyver-like creativity, Kildare deploys unusual tools, including violin strings and lime squeezers! Hanlon then pledges to help Kildare anytime he needs it, since, to quote the title, "Internes can't take money."

Dr. Kildare has quite the crush on the increasingly desperate Janet, and when he learns she's going out of town with Innes, he calls in the favor from Hanlon. This sequence may be predictable but it's tremendous fun as Hanlon barks out orders to his troops to save the damsel in distress.

And then, by golly, Dr. Kildare finds himself carrying out another top-secret surgery outside the hospital...

INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY is a high-energy 78 minutes from its opening moments with an ambulance racing during the credits.

Director Alfred Santell and cinematographer Theodor Sparkuhl shoot the film with creative setups, first gliding through the hospital clinic and later staging a scene with white-coated doctors filing into the office of hospital chief Dr. Fearson (Pierre Watkin); Fearson's office is a wonder of set design, with people coming and going in the hospital visible through a glass wall behind the doctor's desk.

Stanwyck and McCrea are both so good that they instantly convey their attraction with no words necessary. Both their characters endure quite melodramatic experiences, but they play it all with absolute conviction and are simply wonderful.

It's no surprise that Nolan is also terrific, as are the other cast members, including Irving Bacon as the eyepatch-wearing bartender Jeff and Lee Bowman as an intern who's dismissed from the hospital. Wonderful faces like Charles Lane and Fay Holden are also in the film.

Watch for pretty Ellen Drew in a non-speaking bit role as a nurse in the last third of the movie. Four years later Drew would star opposite McCrea in REACHING FOR THE SUN (1941), directed by William Wellman, and in 1950 they would costar in one of the best films of either of their careers, Jacques Tourneur's STARS IN MY CROWN (1950).

My only criticism of the film is that the screenplay by Rian James and Theodore Reeves focuses on Janet's character's troubles slightly too long in the middle section of the movie; other than that, it's a well-paced film which is balanced well between its two lead characters. I particularly appreciated the subtlety with which Innes makes his intentions known, with popcorn taking on an entirely new meaning in this film.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray print and sound quality are excellent. In addition to the commentary track, the INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY Blu-ray provides trailers for WITNESS TO MURDER (1954), which stars Stanwyck, and THE GUNFIGHT AT DODGE CITY (1959), which stars McCrea.

I'll be reviewing the other two films in the set here at a future date. (Update: Here is my review of THE BRIDE WORE BOOTS.)

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger SimpleGifts said...

Wonderful review, Laura. This film was shown at Capitolfest last summer. Even though the festival was honoring McCrea and Dee it seemed to me that it was Stanwyck's intense, genuine performance in this film that most moved the audience that weekend. I'd seen the film before on DVD but it was a completely new experience seeing Stanwyck's riveting close-ups on the big screen. The ending is a bit contrived but always brings tears to my eye. Best, Jane

1:22 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Jane!

How wonderful to have seen this on a big screen. I love your description of Stanwyck's performance and how the audience responded to it. Very much agree about the ending.

Thank you so much for sharing that experience!

Best wishes,

6:12 PM  

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