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Warren William as the accidental doctor and Donald Meeks as Dr. Frankenstein
Usually Warren William played someone who starts down the easy crooked way deliberately. Here it is more of an accident, almost the stuff of film noir if you look strictly at the plot. Warren plays a X-ray technician, Bob Brown, in love with a beautiful nurse, Caroline Grant (Jean Muir). Bob seems happy with his easy-going although somewhat chaotic existence, but Caroline wants more for him. She talks him into returning to finish his one remaining year of medical school and gives him her life savings - fifteen hundred dollars. Bob, always a victim to his impulses with liquor and gambling, gambles Caroline's money away on the train there. He manages to cover this up by writing fake letters about his progress, but then his year is up and he must return home.
Before Bob has to tell Caroline the truth he runs across a morphine addict who happens to be an ex-doctor. Bob makes a deal with the devil, almost literally, and agrees to supply the addict with morphine if the ex-doctor will let him use his licensing credentials. Bob seems to forget one key point - by definition an addict can never have enough and thus always comes back for more. By the end of this film the real Dr. Martel is popping up everywhere and under the oddest circumstances to the point where the viewer wonders if this guy's appearances are always real or perhaps sometimes an apparition as a metaphor for Bob's conscience finally getting the best of him.
Bob sets up practice in New York City, where nobody knows him, as Dr. J. Herbert Martel. He gets an actual doctor - Donald Meeks as the unsuspecting Dr. George Wiley - to be the actual physician and his partner. Wiley always sees the patients first, and then Bob as Martel just cleans up behind him dispensing charm and useless advice and prescriptions. He's aiming at the society crowd whose only illnesses are boredom and weight problems, but occasionally a real patient with real problems wanders in and catches Bob off guard. With all of Bob's slickness in this operation he has done one really un-slick thing - hired his girlfriend, who knows him so well, as his nurse who thinks Bob is on the level and is an actual licensed physician. This proves to be Bob's undoing.
If you like Warren William as the precode cad, as the guy who knows right from wrong but does the wrong thing anyways, as the hard guy who ultimately has a soft spot for the right woman, you'll love this short little feature film. The best precode touch of the movie is unexpected, and actually comes from Donald Meeks as Dr. Wiley pulling a Dr. Frankenstein and bringing the dead back to life with one of his inventions. Highly recommended
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