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The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939)

 -  Drama  -  24 November 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 182 users  
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Dr. Gillespie's cancer has gotten worse, and to force him to take a rest instead of pursuing a sulfa-drug/pneumonia study, Kildare refuses to assist Gillespie, and instead accepts a case of... See full summary »



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Title: The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939)

The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939) on IMDb 6.1/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Messenger
Helen Gilbert ...
Nancy Messenger
Nat Pendleton ...
Sara Haden ...
Samuel S. Hinds ...
Emma Dunn ...
Walter Kingsford ...
Dr. S.J. Carew
John Xerxes Archley
Alma Kruger ...
Robert Kent ...
Charles Herron
Marie Blake ...
Sally, Telephone Operator
Martha O'Driscoll ...
Mrs. Roberts


Dr. Gillespie's cancer has gotten worse, and to force him to take a rest instead of pursuing a sulfa-drug/pneumonia study, Kildare refuses to assist Gillespie, and instead accepts a case of hysterical blindness. She's also the daughter of a millionaire who could help the hospital. Written by Kathy Li

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Release Date:

24 November 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Secret of Dr. Kildare  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dr. Leonard Barry Gillespie: Even good doctors often forget that fear is a tyrant over the body as well as the mind. People can acquire the evil results of every disease just through fear alone.
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Followed by Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

Kildare tries to help Gillespie and a young woman
1 March 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In 1939's "The Secret of Dr. Kildare," the young doctor is faced with a tough decision. Dr. Gillespie's cancer has exacerbated, and he cannot continue his lab experiments as he once did. Of course, he's refusing to stop. So Kildare quits, knowing Gillespie can't do the work without him. He takes over instead the care of a young woman, Nancy Messenger (Helen Gilbert), who has some emotional issues. Her father (Lionel Atwill) isn't sure what to do about her, so Kildare gains her confidence and tries to get to the bottom of her problems. Meanwhile, Kildare's parents (Samuel S. Hinds and Emma Dunn) come to visit. It turns out that the senior Dr. K has a potentially terminal heart problem and has come to New York for a second opinion. This, too, is a Secret of Dr. Kildare - because he doesn't tell his son.

What made this series a great success was the interrelationships of the characters. Lionel Barrymore is a great Dr. Gillespie, and his relationship with Kildare, with his head nurse, Molly Byrd (Alma Kruger) and Dr. Carew (Walter Kingsford) are lively ones of affection cut with bellowing. Laraine Day is Mary Lamont, who's in love with Kildare, but things haven't really heated up between them yet. She, too, has her moments with Gillespie. At one point while recuperating from a weak spell, he asks her to order him a steak, baked potato and apple pie. Lamont never changes expression, picking up the phone to get him gruel and weak tea.

Though the plot line involving Nancy Messenger is oversimplified and not terribly realistic, this is nevertheless a good episode in the Kildare series. Some trivia - Helen Gilbert, who plays Nancy, in real life was married for one year to gangster Johnny Stompanato, Lana Turner's boyfriend who was killed by her daughter Cheryl.

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