IMDb > The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939)

The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939) More at IMDbPro »


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Max Brand (story)
Willis Goldbeck (writer)
View company contact information for The Secret of Dr. Kildare on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
24 November 1939 (USA) See more »
Dr. Gillespie's cancer has gotten worse, and to force him to take a rest instead of pursuing a sulfa-drug/pneumonia study... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Kildare tries to help Gillespie and a young woman See more (7 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Lew Ayres ... Dr. James 'Jimmy' Kildare

Lionel Barrymore ... Dr. Leonard Barry Gillespie

Lionel Atwill ... Paul Messenger
Helen Gilbert ... Nancy Messenger

Nat Pendleton ... Joe Wayman

Laraine Day ... Nurse Mary Lamont
Sara Haden ... Nora
Samuel S. Hinds ... Dr. Stephen Kildare
Emma Dunn ... Mrs. Martha Kildare
Walter Kingsford ... Dr. S.J. Carew

Grant Mitchell ... John Xerxes Archley
Alma Kruger ... Head Nurse Molly Byrd
Robert Kent ... Charles Herron
Marie Blake ... Sally - Telephone Operator
Martha O'Driscoll ... Mrs. Roberts
Nell Craig ... Nurse 'Nosey' Parker
George Reed ... Conover
Frank Orth ... Mike Sullivan
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Walter Baldwin ... Finch (uncredited)

Don 'Red' Barry ... Collins - Intern (uncredited)
George Chandler ... Pay Orderly (uncredited)
Tom Collins ... Dr. Joiner (uncredited)
Alec Craig ... Telephone Repair Man (uncredited)
Byron Foulger ... Hospital Attendant (uncredited)
Mitchell Lewis ... Adam - Nora's Gardener (uncredited)
Matt McHugh ... Messenger's Chauffeur (uncredited)
Emory Parnell ... Policeman on Gaylor Ave. (uncredited)
William Tannen ... Bates - Intern (uncredited)
Joe Yule ... Lunch Room Counterman (uncredited)

Directed by
Harold S. Bucquet 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Max Brand  story
Willis Goldbeck  writer
Harry Ruskin  writer

Produced by
Lou L. Ostrow .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
David Snell 
Cinematography by
Alfred Gilks 
Film Editing by
Frank E. Hull  (as Frank Hull)
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons 
Set Decoration by
Edwin B. Willis 
Production Management
Charles Stallings .... unit manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Charles Dorian .... second unit director (uncredited)
Horace Hough .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Randall Duell .... associate art director
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording director
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Dolly Tree .... wardrobe
Other crew
Frank Clarke .... pilot (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
84 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Finland:S | Sweden:Btl | USA:Approved | USA:TV-G | USA:Passed (National Board of Review)

Did You Know?

Sally, Telephone Operator:Oh, diamonds on men are vulgar.
Joe Wayman:I wish I was vulgar...
See more »
Movie Connections:
Followed by Dr. Kildare Goes Home (1940)See more »


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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Kildare tries to help Gillespie and a young woman, 1 March 2008
Author: blanche-2 from United States

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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