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  • Dr. Kildare faces a whopping $100,000 malpractice suit in "The People vs. Dr. Kildare," also starring Lionel Barrymore, Laraine Day, Alma Kruger, Benita Granville, Tom Conway, and Red Skelton. MGM used this series and the later Dr. Gillespie series as training ground for its young actors - often, seeing them today, they seem to have very important casts that have included people like Donna Reed, Van Johnson, Keye Luke, and Ava Gardner.

    When a young ice skater (Granville) is paralyzed in one leg after an emergency roadside operation done by Kildare, he becomes the target of a malpractice suit. Today it would be for $100 million, but back in 1941, $100,000 was a chunk of change that put Kildare's career on the line.

    This entry into the series isn't as good as some of the others. It was directed with a sledgehammer - the normally good Granville overacts like crazy, and Barrymore is off the charts with bad temper. Red Skelton is supposed to provide comic relief but doesn't really have the material to do it. And we again have to listen to Nurse Byrd lamenting the man who got away and the lack of fulfillment she has because she never married. Thanks for drumming that into my mother's head in film after film. Also, because of Court TV, the courtroom scenes aren't very credible.

    Nevertheless, you can't help liking some of the characters and relationships, and especially Dr. Kildare and Mary. Ayres and Day are delightful in their roles.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have seen most of the Dr. Kildare movies and was excited to see Turner Classic Movies was showing one I hadn't yet seen--"The People Versus Dr. Kildare". And, while it's not among the very best of the films, it's quite good and offers lots of the same stuff I always like in the films--wonderful characters (particularly Dr. Gillespie and his #1 nurse).

    The film begins with Kildare involved in an accident when his car is involved in a three-way collision. A lady (Bonita Granville) is hurts and needs an emergency operation--and the good doctor performs it right there at the accident site. Later, at the hospital, he then patches up the lady's broken leg. However, when Granville's cast is removed, inexplicably she cannot walk--her leg is paralyzed. And, considering she is a professional skater, this really sucks. In a great example of the expression "no good deed goes unpunished", Granville then sues Kildare--the man who saved her life! Much of the film consists of the trial and Kildare figuring out what really is causing this annoying woman's plight.

    As I mentioned above, the supporting characters are what make this such an enjoyable film. However, unlike the earlier films Nat Pendleton is gone as the bone-headed orderly and is replaced by two (one of which is Red Skelton). This actually worked out pretty well. About the only things that did not work out so well was making Granville such a jerky person. While this was not unusual (as Granville played jerks in most of her films), it didn't make a lot of sense. Additionally, there was a dangling plot hole. When Kildare found the truck driver, the driver had some really important things to say that would have really helped Kildare's case--yet, the guy is never called to testify!!! Could this have been due to over-anxious editing or a mistake by the screen writer? All I know is that my wife (who is a successful writer) kept complaining about this...and she was right. Otherwise, we both had a great time watching this installment.
  • I enjoy these movies when they turn up. I never saw the TV series and don't know much about the background of the movie series. They're always entertaining though sometimes shockingly dated and politically incorrect by today's standards. In this one, for example, Lionel Barrymore tells a jury that injured skater Bonita Granville might be a "hopeless cripple" all her life if not operated on again. In another of these movies -- and could this have been acceptable at any point in the past 100 years? Was some of this series tongue-in-cheek? -- Barrymore tells the parents of a disturbed young man, "I'm sorry to tell you that your son is a psycho case." Lew Ayres was a highly appealing actor throughout his career, not least in these movies. Larraine Day has grown on me. Barrymore is a ham but so what? And the supporting casts are always good.

    In this one, Red Skelton has a fairly large, supposedly comic, role. He is surely an acquired taste and definitely a taste I never acquired.
  • It's almost unbelievable to see just how grumpy and bitter Dr. Gillespie really is around everyone--including the staff of Blair General Hospital--and LIONEL BARRYMORE overdoes the grumpiness to the nth degree with some pretty bitter, contemptuous statements about doctors and lawyers.

    And yet, this entry in the Dr. Kildare series is graced by a couple of fine points--namely, LEW AYRES and LARAINE DAY, who do nicely in the leads and a supporting cast that includes no less than RED SKELTON, BONITA GRANVILLE, DIANA LEWIS, TOM CONWAY and ALMA KRUGER, all doing reasonably well with standard Kildare material.

    Bonita is at her loveliest as the skater who needs an emergency operation after a car wreck--but then discovers that she can no longer move her leg after Dr. Kildare operates. The rest of the film is devoted to whether or not she'll win the malpractice case against him.

    The courtroom scenes have no real bearing on reality, with Dr. Gillespie's impractical plea to the jury being just one of the things we're forced to swallow. The humor is pretty lame, with most of the burden falling on the upcoming Red Skelton as a dumb hospital worker under the thumb of chronic complainer Alma Kruger.

    However, it moves at a brisk pace and is no worse than any other Kildare saga in the series MGM used to promote Ayres and Day, as well as their upcoming talent. But be aware, much of it is politically incorrect and very dated by today's standards.
  • The seventh in the Dr. Kildare series from MGM starring Lew Ayres as Kildare and Lionel Barrymore as his mentor Dr. Gillespie. This time around, Jimmy Kildare finds out the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished. After performing an emergency roadside operation to save the life of a figure skater (Bonita Granville), he is then sued by that skater. Yes, the Kildare series takes on medical malpractice lawsuits in this one.

    Ayres and Gillespie are both great. Laraine Day, Alma Kruger, Nell Craig, and Walter Kingsford are as enjoyable as usual. Nat Pendleton is replaced here by Red Skelton as the comic relief orderly. Pendleton is missed. Bonita Granville is fine as a somewhat unlikable character. The rest of the supporting cast includes reliable pros like Tom Conway, Paul Stanton, and Chick Chandler. Look for Dwight Frye as the jury foreman!

    The courtroom backdrop is a nice change of pace but I can already see from skimming other reviews that the same crowd that dislikes this series for its dated medical knowledge (how dare they not be able to see into the future!) also dislike this film's handling of legal matters. I guess I'll never get it. I don't look at photos from the 1800s and wonder why those people aren't driving cars. Anyway, this is a good entry in the series, but not one of the best. There aren't many of those wonderful little character moments for Lionel Barrymore that are my favorite parts of the series. Fans of the series should still like it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    (There are Spoilers) Coming on the scene of a car & truck smash up good Samaritan Dr. James Kildare, Lew Ayres, with the help of his fiancée Nuse Mary Lamont, Larrine Day, gets to work on the critically injured party ice skating sensation Frances Marlow, Bonita Grandville.

    Knowing that time is running out Dr. Kildare preforms an emergency operation on Frances without the uses of an anesthetist saving her life. It turned that a bystander,Eddie Fetherston, on the scene of the accident pulled out of his jacket pocket a bottle of whiskey and gave a swig, or drink, to the shook up truck driver Bob Hackney,James Flavin, to settle down his nerves. That bottle was later used, and put back in his car, by Dr. Kildare as a disinfectant and was the reason that saved Frances' life it also was the reason that almost cost Dr.Kildare his medical licenses as well as having him pull a stretch in the state penitentiary.

    Just when Frances had her cast removed from her injured leg she realized that it had no feelings, or was paralyzed, and also knowing that her career as a skater as well as being able to walk was history fell into a deep depression. Hysterical and outraged Frances with the insistence of her manager Dan Morton, Chick Chandler, put Dr. Kildare and Blair General, the hospital that Kildare works for, on notice that she's suing both for damages for a cool, in 1941 dollars, $100,000.00.

    The movie goes downhill from then on with most of it taking place in the courtroom with the the star Dr. James Kildare reduced to being nothing more then a member of the peanut gallery. There are long stretches in the movie that seem to go on forever and really adding nothing to the plot. There's even some comedy relief, in order to keep the audience from passing out, with the goofy hospital attendant Vernon Briggs, Red Skelton, painting himself into a corner and then, as he tried to get out of the tight spot that he put himself into, ends up taking a bath.

    The film had a big build up for the venerable Dr. Leonard Gillespie, Lionel Barrymore, who was just itching to testify in court in his protégé's Dr. Jimmy Kildare's defense. Psyching himself up and rearing to go the folksy talking Dr. Gillespie finally got his big chance eagerly saying "I Do" before he's even sworn in. Gillispie then goes into a boring monologue about how the public, like the members of the jury, look down on those of the medical profession which seems to tell those in the jury that they aren't qualified or smart enough to judge the accused Doctor Kildare! In Dr. Gillespie's strange and almost prejudicial way of trying to win the jury over he almost had Dr. Kildear convicted before the jury was even able to deliberate!

    The conclusion of the movie was anything but exciting because it telegraphed itself to the audience a full two month, in movie time, ahead of time. Both Dr. Kildare and Dr. Gillespie overlooked a very important fact in Frances' medical file which had nothing to do with Dr. Kildare's operating on her. It's that overlooked ailment that soon manifested itself into a paralysis of both her legs. Once Dr. Kildare, as well as his mentor Dr. Gillispie, realized what Frances was really suffering from the rest, having Frances to be able to both walk as well as skate again, was just a piece of cake for him.
  • bkoganbing28 December 2011
    The title speaks for itself, Lew Ayres finds himself on the wrong end of a malpractice suit which will happen inevitably to any doctor if he practices long enough in America, this wonderful litigious country of our's. His predicament makes this particular Dr. Kildare film quite relevant for modern times.

    It becomes The People vs. Dr. Kildare when Lew Ayres while driving Alma Kruger's car with fiancé Laraine Day gets into an accident. He does some on the spot surgery to ice skater Bonita Granville which saves her, but she is paralyzed in one leg after the operation. So what else can she do but sue the doctor who saved her life and everyone else remotely connected with the incident.

    Unfortunately in Alma Kruger's car was half used bottle of liquor which Ayres can't account for, but he knows that he and Day didn't drink that evening. That fact gets leaked to Granville's lawyer Paul Stanton and it's the foundation of his case.

    Of course it's the wise counsel of Lionel Barrymore that saves the day and on cross examination by the hospital and Kildare's lawyer Tom Conway an open question allows Barrymore to address the jury in the same manner he did in his Oscar winning performance in A Free Soul. I need not say that Barrymore did not drop dead at the end of his oration.

    Red Skelton made the second of two appearances in the Kildare series as medical orderly Vernon Briggs. Skelton was taking the place of ambulance driver Nat Pendleton and his humor is there for comic relief and somewhat shoehorned into the film. An offhanded remark by him though is what gives the plaintiff in the suit ammunition to first start Granville's lawsuit.

    An equal amount of time is spent in the courtroom as well as the hospital in The People Vs. Dr. Kildare, one of the better of the Kildare features.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an interesting film to watch in the context of recent political agitation to put some limits on malpractice reform. Poor ice skater Bonita Granville (who has some shades of gray to her character, and is therefore permitted sporadic attempts at acting) gets into an auto wreck and has her life saved by Dr. Kildare (Lew Ayres), who performs an operation at the scene of the wreck. But, she wakes up paralyzed, and sues the good doctor. As usual, things look pretty black for Young Doctor Kildare (allowing all the characters to make bitter statements about lawyers), but Dr. Gillespe (overacted by a bored Lionel Barrymore) saves the day.

    What's striking about this movie is that, while the main characters are all cursed with hearts of gold, and the grouchy characters are really just sweet brave misunderstood people, the view of the world is downright bitter and angry. Nobody appreciates doctors. Nobody cares how hard they work. The old reliable nurse has a secret melancholy -- she never married and had children, though she had the opportunity. The only person who seems happy is the orderly played by Red Skelton, and that's because he's dumb (as well as in desperate need of material).

    As Dr. Kildare movies go, this one is no better or worse than usual. It's a window into a not very attractive set of societal attitudes shared by a lot of people as of 1941.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is an average entry of this series which is more interesting for it's casting than it's stories. This is one of the earlier series that was used as B Movie Fillers for A Double Features. They were produced slickly at moderate costs.

    Lew Ayres got the title role and Dr. Gillespie is played by Lionel Barrymore. Barrymore does always bring something to his role and might really have been the main draw for these films being produced. In this one, as in most of them, Barrymore is mostly confined to his wheel chair and dispenses sage advice to the younger Ayres.

    Red Skelton is in several of these films doing comic relief. It is welcome though his stuff here is not of the quality of his later work as he is limited by the script.

    This one has Kildare doing emergency surgery on a famous skater and the apparent results being she has a paralyzed leg. Of course she takes Dr. Kildare to court, and Dr. Guillepie has to try to search for an answer to keep his youthful Kildare in practice so he can continue to mentor him.

    From what I have seen, this series is all good, nothing great, and this one is a bit dated on medical procedures now, though when it was filmed I am sure it was current.
  • Don't get me wrong. I love the Dr. Kildare series. But there are problems.

    First off, the title. The title indicates that this is a criminal case, not a civil case. The suit is in actuality, Marlow vs. Kildare, et al. If it were "The People",the district attorney would be prosecuting.

    Secondly, Lionel Barrymore is as irritating as possible as Dr. Gillespie. Why in the world Dr. Kildare would want to work for him I just can't imagine. But that's not just this movie ... it's every Dr. Kildare film. A lovable yet irascible curmudgeon would be, i.e. Charles Laughton at his worst. But Lionel Barrymore is just ridiculous.

    It was fun seeing Red Skelton, but losing Nat Pendleton in this one is disaster. I look forward to Nat Pendleton every bit as much as Lew Ayres and Laraine Day.

    But at least Dr. Kildare was not guilty of misdiagnosing as he was in the last two episodes. Now there are really major problems with those two.

    Marie Blake gets one good gag per picture. They should have used her more. She misses Nat Pendleton, too.

    They never miss an opportunity to use "Nosey Parker", as if Nurse Parker is the origin of the phrase. Sorry, it's not true.

    Bonita Granvillie has been maligned unjustly here. Her character really is only doing what anyone in the same circumstances would do. She wasn't out to get Dr. Kildare or Blair General Hospital. She honestly felt that she was the injured party and that she should recover damages if damages were due. I liked her in this part. I even thought her lawyer did a good job for her in the courtroom. I thought Tom Conway's character wasn't much of a courtroom brawler. He let her lawyer walk all over him.

    This is supposed to be a medical drama, not a courtroom drama. And, as always, not enough alone time with Lew Ayres and Lariane Day. Also missed Samuel S. Hinds and Emma Dunn for the first time. Oh, well ... this series is winding down. So sad.