Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lew Ayres, Lionel Barrymore, Lionel Atwill, Helen Gilbert, Nat Pendleton, Laraine Day, Sara Haden, Samuel S. Hinds, Emma Dunn, Walter Kingsford, Grant Mitchell, Alma Kruger, Robert Kent, Marie Blake, Martha O'Driscoll
Written by: Willis Goldbeck, Harry Ruskin, based on a story by Max Brand
Directed by: Harold S. Bucquet
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 84
Date: 03/18/2013

The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Cure for What Ails You

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Lionel Barrymore stars as Dr. Leonard Barry Gillespie while Lew Ayres plays Dr. James 'Jimmy' Kildare in this low-budget hospital drama. Thank goodness for these top-notch actors because the director, Harold S. Bucquet, does little more than stage them talking on a few sparsely decorated sets. (Apparently 99% of the film's budget went to pay the thespians.) Kildare takes on a case of hysterical blindness in the daughter of a millionaire, much to the disgust of Gillespie, who must take a rest when his own illness gets worse. Based on a story by Max Brand, it's all pretty silly, but the actors project just the right tone, avoiding life-or-death hysterics and keeping a sly edge.

DVD Details: Troma has released this film via the Roan Group, supposedly restored but looking fairly average as far as restorations go. New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick (clearly intimidated by the camera) gives a video introduction to the film.

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