|Index||10 reviews in total|
A Warner's "Clue Club" presentation, this short (just over one hour)
murder mystery will satisfy the hidden sleuths in the audience. As with
so many murder thrillers then and now, "The Murder of Dr. Harrigan" is
set in a hospital where nurses compete for recognition, advancement,
and romance with the handsome physicians, especially Dr. Harrigan (John
Eldredge) and Dr. Lambert (Ricardo Cortez, being groomed by the studio
as a Latin lover). The popularity of this type film led to the highly
successful Dr. Kildare series later in the decade and much later to
TV's popular "Marcus Welby, M.D." Countless other imitations have
appeared and are still popping up from time to time.
The mystery is extremely complex for its day and time. Suffice it to say that a medicinal sleeping formula is being touted by several members of the hospital staff including the administrator, Peter Melady. That he has the completed formula works to his disadvantage since his rivals are determined to claim it for their own. Melady is preparing himself for an operation while his wife, Agnes (Anita Kerry), is in the same hospital with a broken arm. She is surreptitiously being entertained by her paramour, Kenneth Martin (Gordon "William" Elliott--maybe this is how he got his epithet "Wild Bill"). Peter Melady asks his arch rival, Dr. Harrigan, to perform the operation. This is like asking Jack the Ripper to perform an appendectomy on a lady of the evening. To make a long synopsis short, Dr. Harrigan ends up stabbed to death, Dr. Melady ends up missing in action, and an African-American winds up being taken to the morgue, leaving a covey of suspects lurking in the corridors.
The romantic angle is almost as confusing. Dr. Lambert is lusting after vivacious nurse, Sally Keating (Kay Linaker), who in turn is lusting after him. Nurse Lillian Cooper (Mary Astor) is lusting after one of the suspects in the case, plus is burdened with a secret revealed at the end of the flick. Nurse Brody (Mary Treen) lusts after a funny line. And Agnes Melady, needless to say, is still lusting after Wild Bill.
Besides Nurse Brody, humor is provided by the patients, particularly Wentworth (Johnny Arthur) as a whiner with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who is staying in the hospital for a much-needed rest but keeps being bothered by nurses, doctors, plumbers, the police, and other patients; and by Jackson (Don Barclay), a harmless dipsomaniac who drinks rubbing alcohol and runs amok.
"The Murder of Dr. Harrigan" is worthwhile for those of us who love a good mystery. This is a short entertaining programmer in the Warner's "Clue Club" series, which included the popular "While the Patient Slept."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I never heard of this movie before I saw it on TCM although I am a big
fan of Mary Astor and know the body of her work. It is a "B" murder
plot with an surprise killer. The premise is about a totally horrible
millionaire Peter Melady, self-proclaimed developer of a new wonder
anesthetic, around whose discovery there is a lot of controversy. It
appears that he was not the sole developer of this drug but that
becomes a viable motive for murder. As an experiment to prove the
drug's value, he wants to undergo surgery , using this drug but not to
be operated on by his own doctor, Doctor Coate, but by the glib Dr. Leo
Harrigan, Melady's longtime mutual adversary. Again, they hate each
other and are connected by this new drug.Police are called when the
murdered body of Harrigan is found in an elevator, and Melady, last
seen being wheeled on a gurney to surgery by Harrigan, has disappeared.
There are sub plots about Dr. Harrigan's society wife (who is in the
hospital for a broken arm). Hello! this was obviously the days before
same day surgery and medical insurance companies calling the shots. Oh
, and Melady's daughter is also "convienently" another patient in there
for "sunburn". Dr Harrigan's wife has a gigolo boyfriend who is
visiting her even though her husband is chief of surgery there. This
guy, who looks like a poor imitation of Jack la Rue ,is played by Bill
Elliott (billed as Gordon Elliott ) who went on to become one of my
favorite cowboys "Wild Bill Elliott" . Mary Astor has a supporting role
in this movie which is a surprise considering when it was made. The
rest of the cast includes Philip Reed as a young intern (I always
thought of him as the poor man's Tyrone Power- he had that look) and
Ricardo Cortez as the doctor who figures out the crime. Somebody has to
explain to l me what anybody ever saw in Ricardo Cortez. He was born in
Austria, so the studio, jumping on the bandwagon of the Latin lover
craze begun by Valentino, changed his name, place of birth to Spain and
put him in films. They really should have given him acting lessons. He
was wooden and had no range as an actor. There are scenes in this movie
where he looks taken with himself! Anyway , there is a surprise killer
and some revelation about Mary Astor's character. I recommend it for film buffs.
"The Murder of Dr. Harrigan" is a short film in the Crime Club series,
based on a story by Mignon G. Eberhart. Eberhart was a prolific mystery
novelist, but I think this story made better reading than it did a
film. This film stars Ricardo Cortez, Kay Linkater, John Eldredge, and
The plot concerns a formula for a new anesthetic - I never did get the name - it sounded like Slaypen - and a Dr. Melady lays claim as the primary owner, though others, like Dr. Harrigan, had helped to develop it. Melady wants Harrigan to operate on him and use the Slaypen, However, Harrigan is murdered, and Dr. Melady disappears.
Most of the film revolves around the hospital elevator. For awhile, I couldn't figure out why the doctors and nurses kept manually closing the doors, and then I realized that although the elevator was automatic, apparently closing the doors was not yet automatic in 1936. Rather than use the elevator operator with that big wheel often seen in department stores years ago, they were just pulling the doors shut.
Even coming in at just over an hour, this movie seems long because it's so talky, and most of the action is described rather than seen, The star, Ricardo Cortez, lays out the whole solution to the murder to the detective in charge at the end - but we didn't see much of it.
The most entertaining things about this film are the old things: the elevator doors, the nurses' uniforms and caps, the rotary phones. As far as the acting, Cortez is an amiable presence, and Astor is very good. Mary Treen, a very familiar television face, has a small but showy role.
This is one of those typical fast-moving, harried murder mysteries
involving the death of a doctor under unusual circumstances at a
hospital full of suspects. Something about a formula he had developed
in an uneasy partnership with another doctor--and his murder at the
hands of someone who wanted that formula.
Only of interest because of RICARDO CORTEZ in the leading role as one of the helpful doctors who leads the detective to solve the case, and, in a brief supporting role, MARY ASTOR, who manages to make an interesting impression as a nurse who knows more than she's willing to tell. She makes more of an impression than KAY LINAKER who plays Cortez's romantic interest.
This is the sort of mystery fluff that played the lower half of double bills back in the '30s, watchable only for the fast pace and because of its "round up the usual suspects" kind of telling. Extremely dated, but amusing with enough plot complications to keep everyone guessing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was under the impression that "The Murder Of Dr. Harrigan" is part of a movie series made in the 1930s about a nurse (played by a variety of actresses; Kay Linaker this time) who doubles as an amateur sleuth. However, the nurse does very little sleuthing here - it's her boyfriend (and doctor working at the same hospital) who figures out the how and the why of the murder(s), if not quite the who. Anyway, this B mystery is a little lacking in star power (Mary Astor is probably the most famous name in the cast, and she only has a secondary part), but the plot is engaging (it involves a variety of characters, each with his or her own agenda) and the pace is reasonably smooth considering that about 90% of the film takes place in a single set (the hospital). Worth watching. **1/2 out of 4.
"The Murder of Dr. Harrigan" is a glorious example of the sort of low-cost quickies Hollywood churned out in the 30s to satisfy the double feature pipeline. It is almost entirely set in what has to be the sloppiest hospital in America. Here, a doctor reschedules an operation for midnight without bothering to assemble a surgical team. Nurses haphazardly wander in and out of patients' rooms. And when the only elevator in the place stops running, nobody's much concerned until it starts up again -- and a dead body turns up inside. For comedy relief, the orderlies stomach pump the wrong patient. Oh, those wacky hospital staffers! The plot centers on an eccentric millionaire who arranges for a doctor who hates his guts to perform a delicate operation on him, using a new anesthetic that's better than ether; it puts patients out for three days so they can heal painlessly. Somewhere in this melange of mayhem and malpractice, there's Ricardo Cortez trying to save the nurse he loves from being charged with murder by the usual myopic cop. But the mystery zips along and as a throwback to a bygone era, it's at least entertaining. And for trivia buffs, there's Mary Astor in a relatively small, thankless role, purportedly her punishment for bucking the studio system.
The Murder of Dr. Harrigan (1936)
** (out of 4)
Fast paced Warner mystery has Dr. Harrigan being murdered in a hospital right before he's about to do surgery on a man who has also disappeared. Dr. Lambert (Ricardo Cortez) and Nurse Keating (Kay Linaker) decide to do some investigating on their own and realize that just about everyone in the hospital is a suspect and that Harrigan was working on a new form of anesthetic. THE MURDER OF DR. HARRIGAN isn't the best murder-mystery out there from Warner but even with all its flaws it's still worth watching thanks in large part to the nice cast of characters. Cortez is always hit and miss among film buffs but I thought he was rather charming here. The actor certainly didn't have to over extend himself but he did enough to at least keep you entertained in his character. Linaker, just signed off of Broadway, is actually very good in her part but sadly the screenplay gives her very little to work with. Character actor Joseph Crehan does a fine job at the main detective investigating the case and we also get fine support from Robert Strange, Phillip Reed and Anita Kerry. Then there's Mary Astor who according to the trivia section of IMDb turned down the lead part and to punish her the studio gave her a supporting bit. The role is certainly below her talents but she's good in the part and certainly helps make the film better. With that said, the plot here just isn't interesting enough to really pull you in and I'd argue that the direction isn't up to par either. Still, fans of the cast members will still want to check it out.
This picture was on TCM the other morning and the best that can be said
is that it is over quickly. That, and the fact that if you are a 'movie
sleuth' you have to figure out who the murderer is. But you can do that
about halfway through the picture.
Two things strike you while watching this potboiler; first, the script is loaded with dialogue that is clichéd, trite and hackneyed - a great many lines that are cornball or just plain lame, no matter the time period. Second, the number of hospital practices that wouldn't pass muster today, for instance, a doctor wheeling his patient alone to the OR late at night for an operation he rescheduled, while wearing a suit and tie. Or people smoking all over the hospital, mostly in patients rooms.
The plot itself isn't too bad but the picture has a lot of nondescript, unattractive actors, the exception being the chipper, good-natured presence of Ricardo Cortez. But he, like everybody else, seems unaffected and unfazed by the murders occurring throughout the hospital. Check out the stiff and go about your business, nothing to see here.
But after all, it is a B picture. Maybe I was expecting too much but I can't get excited about this one. I would recommend it only to hardcore mystery fans who aren't too particular.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Only a certain kind of audience likes these types of movies, the type
that flocked to see The Thin Man a few years before this film and the
sequel to the Thin Man the same year as this film. It's obvious by the
attempts at humorous banter by the romantic leads that this is a thinly
veiled attempt to cash in on the same audience back in the hey day of
the Thin Man series as the TM movies were attracting. This is nowhere
close to those movies with none of the chemistry (although a few quips
are funny) and the required explanation of what is going on and who
shot who is painfully dragged out and boring. None of the action as
Nicky grills the group. And awful dialog (ex: "Glad, glad do you
hear!") which is really painful to hear from the likes of Mary Astor.
But I am someone who does enjoy these types of movies. It fascinates me how they announce the parts and actions as if they are still on the radio for the sake of those who can't see it. And I enjoy seeing the cultural elements (count how many times the word "negro" is used.)
These films are like a quick glimpse into the campy past. And it's no mystery that glimpses of the past are always fun.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the things a movie has to do is convince the audience that the
actors are not reading lines but are talking as real people would. You
don't have to have overlapping dialog like Hawks or Altman - just
Unfortunately Frank McDonald was no Howard Hawks or Robert Altman. Too many times actors cut off their lines before the other actor cuts in and any decent director would have re-shot the scene. But directors like McDonald were expected to make pictures quickly and cheaply. They were not supposed to be making art Sometimes a B picture would would defy expectations and become a classic. But for every Thin Man or It Happened One Night there were hundreds of Murder of Dr Harrigan. None of the actors stand out except a young Mary Treen who would go on to become an exceptional character actress in movies and especially TV.
As a murder mystery fan, I didn't expect this to be on the level of Murder on the Orient Express or The Hound of the Baskervilles but I was at least hoping for something that would be acceptable for a Murder She Wrote episode. But the way Dr Cortez figures everything out didn't wash. Martin was the most obvious suspect to the police so you know he didn't do it. And you aren't given enough information to pin it on the real killer before he is revealed.
Unless you are a big Mary Astor fan and want to see every movie she was in, you probably are better off avoiding this movie.
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