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J. Farrell MacDonald
Dr. Silas Brenton is fired from his position at a large hospital, primarily for a lack of ethics, and goes to Chicago and sets himself up as a plastic surgeon (unqualified) and seducer of women; his quack methods lead to an operating-room failure that leads to tragedy for many others. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
This is an odd one among Lowell Sherman's films...
... either those he directed or starred in or in this case both. Lowell Sherman plays Dr. Silas Brenton, an M.D. who we are told by his superior is a talented doctor, but who has no scruples whatsoever. He's been extracting extra money from his patients' relatives claiming he'll give them extra special treatment. He's quickly caught and discharged. Silas leaves town, moves to Chicago, and decides to set up shop as a plastic surgeon, even though he has no training in that field. He employs a publicist, played by David Landau, to make sure that all of the wealthy people in town know about him. He forgets all about the girlfriend he had back in New York, doesn't answer her telegrams, and takes up with a cutie that he hired as his secretary, that is, when he is not romancing some wealthy patient's daughter in hopes of marrying into real wealth and respectability.
The movie spins an interesting tale, and Sherman's directing and acting are top rate as usual, but you can't help but be struck by the fact that the script gives Silas Brenton no redeeming or humanizing characteristics at all, and that Brenton has no exit strategy from the fraud he is perpetrating and has got to know will eventually be discovered. He starts out doing "false face lifts" - not really doing anything - and telling patients they need to wait six months to see results, but then moves on to bigger and more dangerous surgeries he's got to know he's unqualified to perform. I'll let you track down a copy of this film and see how it plays out.
Berton Churchill plays Dr. J.B. Parker, Brenton's partner as "consulting physician" who, unlike Brenton, seems to know when Brenton has carried things too far. Lila Lee plays Silas' girlfriend from New York who is torn between loving this guy and knowing that he has to be stopped and brought to justice.
Look out for the interesting nightclub scene towards the middle of the film. The M.C. comes out and introduces celebrities in the audience. Among them is Ken Maynard, a western star of the 20's and 30's who, ironically, suffered a professional implosion of his own making just like the fictional Dr. Brenton.
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