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One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
who is a great surgeon at Emergency Hospital in an unnamed city. The action focuses on the police division of the hospital - where criminals and their victims are taken and treated. Actually, I've never seen such an early film with a hospital wing dedicated to crime, but it serves the plot well since it explains how Dunn's character, Dr. Daniel French, is so well known by both the criminal element and the police in the town.
The film opens with Dunn being called out to ride along with the ambulance on a case - the shooting of the leader of one of the local gangs. However, when French arrives the police inform him he's too late, the mobster has died. Furthermore the police inform him they have no clues as to who did it. French is apparently more observant than the police, speculating by certain clues in the room that a woman was involved. When the doctor returns to the hospital he's met by another case. An anonymous woman (Gloria Stuart) has been brought in. She's unconscious and has been badly beaten. As French works tirelessly to try and save her life, he finds he's falling for this sleeping beauty. Add to this the unusual interest the head of another gang in the city is taking in her case and I think you know where this is going. Complicating factor - the nurse who is assisting French on the girl's case was French's girlfriend and does not appreciate being thrown over, although you have to wonder what she thought was going to happen since up to now the sound of wedding bells had the effect of a fire alarm on Dr. French.
There are other rather comic things going on in the hospital to prevent the film from getting bogged down in melodrama. There's a patient in the hospital that is on the verge of breaking the world record for length of a sneezing fit, there's a lovable little orderly who is trying to woo one of the laundry girls who only seems interested in getting a genuine fur coat, and finally there is David Manners, who plays a young doctor who looks up to French like a kid brother to an older brother and wants nothing more than to follow in his footsteps and specialize in surgery.
Dunn and Manners complement each other well here. Dunn's performance is mainly verbal, while Manners' is primarily facial expressions and mannerisms that are quite telling, and in the end he figures to be a larger part of the conclusion than his small amount of screen time would lead you to believe. There are a couple of rather interesting precode moments. The first has nothing to do with the plot. A charity case in the hospital has eight children and wants to talk to Dr. French about putting her "out of production". French says nothing doing and scurries away. Apparently birth control - surgical or otherwise - was forbidden in those days and could get only a tiny disapproving mention even in a precode film. The second precode moment is the conclusion. Such a thing would not be allowed to go unpunished just a year later, even though the guilty party simply did what society could not or would not do but should have done.
Highly recommended as an interesting precode that moves along nicely.
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