30 November 2014 | wes-connors
The Plow and the Scalpel
He's happiest while manning the plow on his Austrian farm, but brilliant student Richard Barthelmess (as Karl Brenner) goes to medical school in Munich. A naturally gifted surgeon, Mr. Barthelmess is named valedictorian of his graduating class. Unfortunately, a tragedy occurs just before Barthelmess graduates. He takes the rap for his irresponsible foster brother Norman Foster (as Stephan Brenner) after the latter gets drunk and botches an operation on a female companion. Barthelmess is later mistaken for his brother and takes his place as country doctor, after a freaky accident threatens the life of a young boy. Upon saving the kid's life, Barthelmess is offered a big job in the city. However, he must pretend to be his foster brother, which is not legal...
The long shots introducing Barthelmess' character, by director Michael Curtiz (or, possibly, Lloyd Bacon) and photographer Lee Garmes get this off to an artful start. Later, set work by Anton Grot keeps it looking good. In college, Barthelmess and foster brother Foster are amusing, with the latter successfully impersonating a perpetually partying student. We do wonder, however, how Foster was able to obtain a medical license. Raised like they were brother and sister, Barthelmess and foster sister Marian Marsh (as Lotti) are ill-suited young lovers. Veteran Lucille La Verne makes the most of the mother role. And, Nigel de Brulier is mystifying but terrific as a silent, menacing autopsy surgeon. Alas, as a story, "Alias the Doctor" is not very convincing.
***** Alias the Doctor (2/25/32) Michael Curtiz ~ Richard Barthelmess, Marian Marsh, Norman Foster, Lucille La Verne