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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. RX (William Nigh, 1942) **
This obscure Universal "B" horror flick is also included in that yet-to-be released Box Set I mentioned in my review of HOUSE OF HORRORS (1946) above and, unfortunately, while I would certainly say that this one is more readily enjoyable, my verdict overall is equally lukewarm. For one thing, much of the film's entertainment value stems more from the interaction between "master" Patrick Knowles (an insurance salesman moonlighting as a private dick!) and klutzy valet Mantan Moreland (who even devices a convoluted method for remembering his most basic instructions)! Also on hand are Knowles' girl Anne Gwynne, distinguished lawyer Samuel S. Hinds (whose guilty but off-the-hook clients are meeting sudden death at the hands of the enigmatic titular medico), the bumbling investigating duo of Edmund MacDonald and Shemp Howard (of "The Three Stooges" fame) and even a brief, thankless "red herring" cameo from a mousy(!) Lionel Atwill. As I intimated earlier, the surfeit of comic incident (not to mention the endless, dull chatter in which various parties, including Hinds' brother Paul Cavanaugh, try to talk Knowles out of taking on the case) far outweighs the film's horror elements which are puzzlingly relegated to the last five minutes of the 66-minute movie as if the screenwriter suddenly realized which genre he was supposed to be working in! What happens towards the end, however with the belated "in costume" appearance of the raspy-voiced doc suddenly hard at work on transplanting the brain of his caged gorilla with that of Knowles?! comes so utterly out of left field as to seem ridiculously far-fetched and, therefore, unable to redeem this would-be chiller. But, at least, Moreland and, to a lesser extent Howard, are funny
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