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The Medicine Man (1930)

 -  Comedy | Romance  -  15 June 1930 (USA)
5.0
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Ratings: 5.0/10 from 140 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 2 critic

The son and daughter of an abusive shopkeeper turn to a medicine show salesman for help.

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(screenplay), (play), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Dr. John Harvey
...
Mamie Goltz
E. Alyn Warren ...
Goltz
Eva Novak ...
Hulda
Billy Butts ...
Buddy
Adolph Milar ...
Peter
...
Steve (as Georgie Stone)
Tom Dugan ...
Charley (as Tommy Dugan)
Vadim Uraneff ...
Gus
Caroline Rankin ...
Hattie
Dorothea Wolbert ...
Sister Wilson
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Storyline

Mamie and Buddy, the son and daughter of a cruel, abusive shopkeeper, are excited when Dr. Harvey's medicine show comes to town. But when they slip away at night to watch the show, their father finds out and punishes them severely. When the angry father then decides to force Mamie to marry against her will, she turns to Dr. Harvey for help. Meanwhile, two of the doctor's associates have been playing a confidence game, and have attracted the attention of the local sheriff. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 June 1930 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

An Odd Curio Of Its Era
18 November 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This is an odd curio of the early sound era in movie history, an attempt to mix melodrama and comedy that might have worked better on the stage than it does as a movie. Most of the interest in watching it now comes from Betty Bronson's sympathetic performance as the heroine, and from seeing Jack Benny in what seems to have been his first starring role in a feature-length movie.

The story has Bronson and a younger brother as the children of a tyrannical and abusive shopkeeper. They meet up with a traveling medicine show led by Benny's character, who then becomes involved in their family problems, while at the same time trying to keep an eye on some of his shifty associates who have a knack for getting in trouble with the law. The setup has enough of interest to make for a good story, but it doesn't ever feel as if things come together.

Some of the intended humor doesn't quite come off, and some of the behavior of the shopkeeper father is unsettling. He's a genuinely nasty character that you don't expect to see in movies of the era, and while the character serves to call attention to child abuse issues, it doesn't mesh with the parts of the movie that are supposed to be much lighter. It's hard for the comedy to work when the young heroine and her brother face such an unpleasant situation, and yet the lighter material also takes attention away from the seriousness of the issues involved. To some degree, this may just be a sign of its era, for in the early sound era it is not uncommon to see movies with awkward pacing and material that does not always fit together.

Bronson is the bright spot of the movie, although this kind of scenario does not really allow her to use her talents to the best advantage. She makes her character engaging and believable, and this gives you a reason to maintain interest in the rest of the movie. It's interesting to watch Benny, especially in comparison with his better-known performances later in his career. Here, you can see signs of the talents that eventually would make him such a wonderful entertainer, and at the same time you can see that this kind of movie is not where his strength lies.


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