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After five men previously acquitted of various criminal charges are murdered by a mysterious avenger known as Dr. Rx, police Inspector Hurd and Sergeant Sweeney ask private investigator Jerry Church to help them on the case. He takes the case after talking to Dudley Crispin, a brilliant attorney who had defended three of the murdered men. Crispin gains an acquittal for his latest client, Zarini, but the latter falls dead in the courtroom. Jerry marries Kit Logan, who becomes frightened and persuades Jerry to quit the case. He stays however after Ernie Paul, suspected of the Zarini murder, threatens to "get" him if he does not stay on and clear Paul. Dr. Rx captures Jerry and attempts to frighten him into insanity by strapping him on an operating table, and pretending to exchange the detective's brain for a gorilla. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
1941's "The Strange Case of Doctor Rx" was part of Universal's popular SHOCK! package of classic horror films issued to television in the late 50s, turning up twice on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater, on May 8 1976 (following Cameron Mitchell's "Nightmare in Wax") and Jan 29 1983 (solo). Yes, Lionel Atwill is criminally wasted, but what's worse is how the ads promoted it as a horror film prominently featuring his countenance (billed second, as he also was in "The Mad Doctor of Market Street"). Patric Knowles is the actual star, before "The Wolf Man" and "Mystery of Marie Roget," and has no trouble carrying the picture, but the on again-off again sparring between his detective Jerry Church and new bride Kit (Anne Gwynne) wears thin very quickly. Church has just returned from South America, only to be bludgeoned by the recent series of murders committed by a mysterious Doctor Rx (not to be confused with Atwill's 1932 "Doctor X"), who executes criminals that escape the justice system. The couple are likable performers, but the 'Battling Churches' were mercifully not granted a sequel (it really is less a horror film than a domestic mystery/whodunit, certainly no THIN MAN). Still entertaining for those who encountered it long ago, particularly for the excellent cast, with Samuel S. Hinds, Paul Cavanagh, Mary Gordon, pretty Jan Wiley, and Ray 'Crash' Corrigan as the gorilla Nbongo, in the lone nightmarish sequence that climaxes the picture. The underrated Mantan Moreland, who always rose above his material, easily steals every scene he's in, which the better known Shemp Howard fails to do (some 5 years before he rejoined The Three Stooges).
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