Calling Dr. Gillespie (1942)

Passed   |    |  Crime, Drama, Thriller

Calling Dr. Gillespie (1942) Poster

Dr. Gillespie is called in to investigate when a young man suffering from mental problems disappears on a killing spree.


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6 May 2010 | bkoganbing
| Gillespie Turns Psychiatrist
Calling Dr. Gillespie, the first film made with Lionel Barrymore now in the lead of the medical series that had previously featured Lew Ayres as Dr. Kildare takes a really sharp turn into a film noir melodrama as Barrymore becomes the target of a homicidal maniac.

The case comes to Barrymore's attention after a young man who Donna Reed was about to marry flips out and kills her dog. He brings in as a consultant a refugee doctor from Europe Phillip Dorn who is a surgeon, but wants to change his specialty to psychiatry. I guess there were no psychiatrists available.

But between them Dorn and Barrymore come to the conclusion that young Philip Brown is insane and belongs in a hospital. A conclusion that the family physician, stuffy Charles Dingle doesn't agree with.

This film is also unusual because there is a whole interlude where Brown takes center stage and the Blair General regulars completely disappear from the film for a while. Brown flees to Detroit where he proves Barrymore right and Dingle wrong when he commits a couple of murders for reasons that only would make sense to an insane man.

The dynamic of the series shifted with this film and not only because Lew Ayres departed. Ayres was the young protégé to Barrymore and it was a medical father/son dynamic then. Here Lionel Barrymore has a very professional assistant in Dorn and he's not quite the curmudgeon towards him as he was with Ayres.

The rest of the Blair General regulars were there, Walter Kingsford as the head of the hospital, Alma Kruger as head of the nurses, and Nat Pendleton as the loyal if slightly dim ambulance driver. He in the end actually proves most useful. I always liked Nell Craig as the eternally put upon Nurse Parker who Barrymore berates throughout the series. The relationship is obviously based on Monty Woolley and Mary Wickes from The Man Who Came To Dinner.

Phil Brown should come in for praise as well as the charming and psychotic young suitor. A character very much borrowed from Emlyn Williams's Night Must Fall and played on screen by MGM's own Robert Montgomery.

Calling Dr. Gillespie proved the Dr. Kildare series still had life even without Kildare.

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