17 February 2020 | lugonian
Doctor Kildare's Criminal Case
INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY (Paramount, 1937), directed by Alfred Santell, is a medical drama based on the story by Max Brand, creator of the Doctor Kildare character. It also is the movie that introduces Doctor Kildare to the screen. Though many film historians believe Lew Ayres to be the original Doctor Kildare of the movies, it is an unknown fact that this first Kildare of the screen was actually played by Joel McCrea. With no Doctor Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore in the Ayres series) as his supervisor and mentor, nor setting at Blair General Hospital as depicted in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer series (1938-1942), this introduction to the noteworthy character is less hospital melodrama combining sentimentality and crime drama using two separate stories for two basic characters.
Following camera tracking to various medical rooms where young interns in clinics are taking care of patients and their needs, Jimmie Kildare (Joel McCrea) is introduced as a young interne at Mounview General Hospital making $10 a month treating a second degree burn on left forearm wrist of Janice Haley (Barbara Stanwyck), who later faints of malnutrition. Later that evening, Doctor Howard J. Pearson (Pierre Watkin), hospital superintendent, gathers his staff together for the dismissal of Interne Weeks (Lee Bowman), a friend of Kildare's, for experimental liver operation on a patient who has died. While comforting Weeks at the nearby bar, Janice enters to meet with Dan Innes (Stanley Ridges), a gangster. It is revealed that Janice is a widow of Jim Haley, bank robber who had taken her 11 month baby and hidden her someplace. Having served a two year prison term for not revealing information about her husband's criminal activities, Janice, now paroled, comes to the racketeer hoping for information regarding the whereabouts of her now three-year-old daughter. Innes agrees to help her for $1,000, which she does not have. In the meantime, Kildare encounters Hanlon (Lloyd Nolan), a racketeer who enters the bar only to keel over due to severe knife wound. Kildare secretly takes the injured gangster to the back room of the bar and off the record does an immediate operation to save his life. Later, Kildare receives an envelope with $1,000 cash from bartender known as "One Eyed" Jeff (Irving Bacon). When Janice learns Kildare's money she desperately needs to find her child, her attempt to steal the envelope fails. Kildare gives back the money to Hanlon only because the "internes can't take money." Coming to terms with hospital rules, Hanlon agrees to assist Kildare with any favors needed. When Kildare learns of Janice's history, he comes to Hanlon for assistance, at the risk of losing his own medical career if caught. Also in the cast are: Barry Macollum (Stooley Martin); Charles Lane (Grote, the gambler who must earn the money lost to Innes by acting as his butler); Lillian Harmer (Mrs. Mooney, the Landlady); Fay Holden (Mother Theresa) and Gaylord Pendleton (Interne Jones).
Being the only "Doctor Kildare" movie produced by Paramount and featuring Joel McCrea, this is a good introduction to the Max Brand character. It also marks the third of six screen collaborations of Stanwyck and McCrea, with INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY being one of their most underrated. Though Kildare is still the central character, the premise focuses more on the Stanwyck character, giving a standout performance and given extreme facial close-ups with realistic teary-eyedbuildup scenes that work with conviction. Stanwyck is most believable in her role of a desperate mother going through extremes searching for her infant child. Heartfelt moments include Stanwyck overlooking little sad looking three-year-old girls in orphanage, hoping one of them would be her very own daughter. Lloyd Nolan and Stanley Ridges give commendable performances as mobsters, with Nolan being more sympathetic through his tough guy image.
Unseen on commercial television since the late 1970s (notably WPIX, Channel 11 in New York City prior to 1973, and some showings on New Jersey's WTVG, Channel 68 (1976-1978), INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY, which has, to date, never been shown in cable TV, did become available in 1995 on video cassette and DVD in 2013. Regardless of crime melodrama, sentiment and medical issues, INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY is worthy screen 77 minute , thanks to its fine casting of actors and direction that rise above average script material. (***)