5.9/10
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17 user 9 critic

The Mysterious Doctor (1943)

Approved | | Horror, Mystery, Thriller | 3 March 1943 (USA)
The citizens of a tiny Cornish village are tormented during World War II by a headless ghost which is haunting the local tin mine.

Director:

(as Ben Stoloff)

Writer:

(original screenplay)
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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Sir Henry Leland
...
Letty Carstairs
...
Lt. Christopher 'Kit' Hilton
...
Dr. Frederick Holmes
...
Hugh Penhryn
...
Bart Redmond
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Storyline

The citizens of a tiny Cornish village are tormented during World War II by a headless ghost which is haunting the local tin mine.

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Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

3 March 1943 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

Did Warners make a film on the Universal lot?
6 October 2003 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

It would sure look that way. Fog-shrouded forests are more akin to the Universal landscape of the Wolfman films or those of Sherlock Holmes than of the urban crime thrillers at Warners. While it starts out as a pure horror film, it soon settles nicely into a wartime thriller which may "cheat" a bit on the Grand Guignol, but it's still enjoyable and it's briskly paced at around an hour.

Lester Matthews, who was seen likely to inherit Valerie Hobson in "The Werewolf of London" is the doctor of the title. Some in the village think that he may be a spy who descended on the moors with a parachute and may be up to no good - he keeps asking about the tin mine. It's WWII time, and tin is a most needed commodity. But the locals are afraid to work the mine as there happens to be a headless ghost prowling around.

Matthews as Doctor Holmes (interesting choice of character names) goes to check out the mine, but meanwhile he's being checked out by the innkeeper - a man whose face is covered by a mask since he was involved in a mine explosion that horribly scarred his face. Meanwhile, checking them both out is the village idiot and a headless ghost - suddenly there's more mine traffic than anyone's seen in years.

This is one of those films in which one has to drop all questions - at 57 minutes, there isn't time to ask any, and just enjoy the atmosphere. Not only the moors and the mine, but the performances of a Britain as only Hollywood could conceive it and transplanted British actors could play it. The characters in the inn could well have come from Whale's "The Invisible Man" - or perhaps more aptly Beebe's "The Invisible Man's Revenge." No matter, they're colorful and led by local squire John Loder who had the pleasure of going home to Hedy Lamarr at the time. He lent a solid presence to several "B" horrors of the 40s - such as "The Brighton Strangler" and "A Game of Death." Also in the cast is a most youthful Eleanor Parker looking radiant. Matt Willis is the mentally challenged villager, and damned if he doesn't resemble Lon Chaney Jr's Lennie - just as he resembled Chaney's Wolfman in "Return of the Vampire."

The sharp cinematography is by Henry Sharp (a deliberate pun) who photographed Vidor's "The Crowd" as well as Lang's "Ministry of Fear" and the Technicolor opus "Dr. Cyclops." This was quite a talent to snare for a "B" film, one would want to credit the producer for such a coup, but for some reason there isn't one credited. Bryan Foy was over at Warners and in charge of their "B" unit, but his name isn't on screen. If someone thought the project unworthy, they were wrong - it may have had only slightly better than a PRC or Monogram budget, but the results were light years apart. It's closer to Val Lewton, or 20th-Fox' "The Undying Monster" and from this writer's perspective, that's praise indeed.


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