|Index||10 reviews in total|
The post-Lew-Ayres Dr. Kildare series sputters with Keye Luke and Van
Johnson still competing to be Lionel Barrymore's assistant -- and each
has to solve a medical mystery of his own choice. Meanwhile, various
plots continue from earlier entries in the series, mostly comic. The
series was winding down and only two more entries would come out, at
This episode is better than a couple of the polished stinkers that immediately preceded it. The comic relief does not overwhelm the movie, the usual character actors are on hand in their series roles for your enjoyment and they also give you a young Ava Gardner, just another of the MGM contract players. Hubba Hubba.
But the principal reason to watch these movies is, of course, Lionel Barrymore, always an enormously enjoyable and expert performer for any role. Unfortunately, he suffered badly from rheumatism and so he spent this entire series sitting down in a wheelchair. But standing or sitting, he's always good to watch.
This is a rather annoying entry into the series. With Dr. Kildare
persona non grata at MGM after Lew Ayres became a conscientious
objector, the franchise now belongs to irascible Dr. Gillespie (Lionel
Barrymore). Barrymore was a wonderful actor, but these were B movies
slapped together probably in days, and it shows. This particular film
had Barrymore overplaying to the balcony at the top of his lungs. Van
Johnson and Keye Luke are cute as the energetic interns vying to be his
assistant (again) and each taking on a difficult case. Johnson, of
course, also has to deal with a woman. This time, it's pretty Marilyn
The chief interest in seeing this film is for an early appearance by Ava Gardner as Jean Brown. She is flawlessly beautiful as a young woman caring for her arthritis-stricken mother.
I liked the Dr. Kildare series with Lew Ayres and Laraine Day much more, I have to confess.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILERS** With his top kick or head man at Blair General Hospital
Dr. Kildare, or better yet actor Lew Ayres, off to war as a
conscientious objector, driving ambulances on the front lines, Dr.
Gillespie, Lionel Barrymore, is desperate to find his replacement.
After searching high and low among his hundreds of interns Dr.
Gillespie boils his search down to two candidates for Dr. Kildare's job
doctors Randall "Red" Ames, Van Johnson, and Lee Won How, Keye Luke.
Giving the two young doctors the task of finding a cure to a assigned patient's illness within a specific amount of time, like he's conducting some kind of game show or scavenger hunt, Dr. Gillespie will choose as his assistant the one who finds the cure first. A cocky Dr. Lee gets the job of finding out why little Mary Jones, Patrica Barker, is allergic to sugar like candy and sweet potato's. Red on his own takes up the task of finding out why this young woman-who refuses to reveal her name-Jean Brown played by Ava Gardner is walking and driving around dead drunk yet doesn't have a single drop of alcohol in her system?
Wise old and manipulative Lenny Gillespie is really in favor of Red taking Dr. Kildare's place as his #1 assistant but Lee is determined to beat him to it by finding out what's the reason for Little Mary's acute anti-sugar problem. Meanwhle Red has his hands full with finding out the cause of beautiful brunette Jean's non-existent alcoholism which in fact turned out to be an anti-depression pill Jean had given to her by a friend of her's at a party she attended! Where at the same time Red's having this gorgeous blond Ruth Edley, Marilyn Maxwell, hounding him day and night to go out on a hot date with her! That on his measly $20.00 a month salary as an intern!
As things tuned out Lee beats Red out in finding the cure, with Dr. Gillespie subconsciously tipping him off, for his patients, Litte Mary,illness and thus is to be rewarder in being Dr. Gillespie head man at Blair General. Lee also clues in Red, by showing him a nine year-old boy playing hop-scotch on the sidewalk, to what's the reason for Jean's drowsiness as a result of her pill popping which has to do with her depression over her mothers Mrs. Brown, Barbara Brown, arthritic condition.
As it turned out the arthritis caused Mrs. Brown's right leg to be shorter then her left leaving her confined in a wheelchair for years. All Red now had to do is fit Mrs Brown with a special set of custom made shoes, at his bear bones salary where did he get the cash to buy them?, and everything including Jean's depressive state of mind, as a result in caring for her mother, would turn out fine.
Red now feeling that he lost out to his colleague Lee in being top assistant to Dr. Gillispie, not knowing it was in fact Dr. Gillespie not Dr. Lee who came up with the cure for Litte Mary's illness,is ready to pack it in and join the US Marine Corps to fight the Japs in the far off South Pacific. It's then that Dr. Gllespie comes to his rescue pulling strings in getting Lee drafted into the Chinese Army as a field doctor on the front lines! Something that Lee wanted even more then being Dr. Gillespie's assistant!
There's still the messy matter of Ruth messing up Red's mind by wanting him to hook up with her, for life, endangering his career in medicine! It's here that Dr. Gillespie, with a little help from his friends, saves Red's neck, as well a everything below it, in getting him out of that "terrible terrible jam" in a way that only he knows how.
It's been three months (and three movies) and Dr. Gillespie still
hasn't decided on which of his two interns will become his new
assistant. Once again he gives them each a case to decide the matter.
Dr. Lee gets a case involving a little girl who gets sick when she eats
candy. Dr. Adams helps a troubled young woman whose mother has a
Fourth entry in the Dr. Gillespie series is pleasant enough but the cracks are starting to show. Lionel Barrymore is especially cantankerous this time around ("Don't smirk at me you nincompoop!"). The longtime regulars are as good as ever. George Reed, as Gillespie's man Conover, gets some particularly funny lines this time. But the production values seem less impressive and the script isn't that great. Keye Luke is still going on about being from Brooklyn. I applaud MGM for trying to show that a Chinese-American is 'just like the rest of us' but enough already. Three movies in and he won't shut up about Brooklyn. He also reuses a line from an earlier film about giving a blood transfusion to a Jap. Still, it's Keye Luke and he's got a very likable and charming appeal. Early role for Ava Gardner ("I never get fat"). She's very pretty but hardly impresses with her acting. Van Johnson is the star of this one. He does well in his scenes with Gardner and sexy Marilyn Maxwell, though he was never convincing as a ladies man. Worth watching for fans of the Kildare & Gillespie films but this isn't one of the best.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I see this as one of the more interesting in the series of Dr. Kildare
films, although Dr. Kildare was long gone by this time. That's not to
say that this is a great film, but it may be better than most of the
Why do I find it interesting? Well first, Lionel Barrymore is a lion in this film...playing it to the max, and that's just darned fun to watch.
Second, this is the point where MGM is trying to build Van Johnson into a star. It's only 2 years into his movie career (setting aside uncredited roles and shorts), and they are trying to make him a bit of a playboy here. He does nicely. It is also one of the earliest films in which Ava Gardner was credited, and while I am sure she later looked on this as a waste of her talent, I rather liked her here (and she is not always one of my favorites).
Third, in how many films in that era (or even now) do you find an Asian in a starring role? Well, here Keye Luke is costarring at the same level of Van Johnson, and that's directly under Barrymore.
The plot is decent -- 2 young doctors are literally vying to take the place of Dr. Kildare as Dr. Gillespie's assistant (Luke and Johnson). Each gets a case to solve as a test. Luke solves his, and helps Johnson solve his. So who wins? Well, Gillespie sort of arranges a tie. The acting is rather good here, but it's still a B picture...but a good one.
So, these attributes make this a more interesting film than you might expect.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This entry in the Dr. Kildare series (without Dr. Kildare) was a
pleasant entry. I missed Dr. Kildare, but MGM had to add new characters
for its financially successful series to continue.
In this entry, neophyte doctors Van Johnson and Keye Luke compete in a friendly and cooperative manner, showing decades earlier that different races need not be afraid of each other, long before we became more politically and socially correct. Both actors turned in believable performances. However, I did find Van's character to be a bit silly trying to steer clear of Marilyn Maxwell's romantic machinations. I know it was the 1940s, but his character acted as if he had never been with a woman on a date before.
In this entry, I found Dr. Gillespie to be rather annoying and more puerile in some of his behaviors: throwing away an invitation since he would have to send a gift without even opening the invitation, dumping his waste basket on his desk and then blaming the janitor, not accepting the responsibility that he missed the said affair, despite the fact that he had been told several times of the correct date. I did, however, enjoy his sparring with Nurse Mollie Byrd.
I also missed Sally the switchboard lady. Blossom Rock/Marie Blake (from The Addams Family) was always fun to see.
And what's up with the title? Why did MGM not include any reference to Dr. Gillespie in its final three entries in the series? Wouldn't that have defeated the purpose of the series? Wouldn't they want fans to know it was part of the Dr. Kildare series?
A treat to see was a young and beautiful Ava Gardner. She also turned in a nice performance, allowing me to hear strains of her future Julie from Show Boat.
This may not be one of the best entries in the series, but it's worth the time to see it and take a trip back to 1944.
3 Men In White featured a trio of upcoming talent in the cast. Vying
for the position of being the new assistant to Lionel Barrymore is up
and coming Van Johnson. Vying for Van's attention is nurse Marilyn
Maxwell and Ava Gardner who brings in the case of her mother who
struggles with arthritis.
Walter Kingsford head of Blair General Hospital finally wants Lionel Barrymore to once and for all choose between Johnson and Keye Luke. When you think about it this whole thing is rather silly and stems for Dr. Gillespie's inability to make up his mind. Barrymore never showed a Hamlet streak in his crusty makeup before.
Despite a really contrived and silly plot the three up and comers were all shone to best advantage. For Ava Gardner this film marks her first real acting role and according to Lee Server's fine book on Gardner her then husband Mickey Rooney helped pull her through the film as she was having doubts about being able to cut it with the dramatics.
I get the impression that what Dr. Gillespie really wanted was for Jimmy Kildare to return and not to have to pick a new one.
Fans of the three upcoming stars should like this.
An interesting curiosity for a number of things, including references to the war. The Barrymore character Dr. Gillespie, with his over-the-top snarling, snapping at people, rooting out mysterious cases and mocking of young doctors and their ill-informed diagnoses is a precursor of the Hugh Laurie character in the House television series. Most significantly, Ava Gardner's performance in her first significant role, where she is fifth-billed, is arresting. Her acting at 22 was still a work in progress, but her charisma and star quality is clear and shines through the journeyman quality of the filmmaking. The cast is an unusual mix of A- level players - Van Johnson, Keye Luke, Gardner and Barrymore - and barely adequate bit players, making for some unusual scenes.
This is the third entry in the Dr. Kildare series in which Van Johnson and Keye Luke play residents vying to be Dr. Gillespie's assistant. Several other people have mentioned this, and I noticed it before I read anything here, so I don't feel bad mentioning it again. Did anybody else see the parallels between this film and House, M.D.? Think about it. A brilliant diagnostician with a foul disposition (Barrymore as Dr. Leonard Gillespie) and a crippling disability is ordered to get an assistant and makes it a competition among the hospital's best and brightest, with Red Adams (Van Johnson) and Dr. Lee (Keye Luke) being the finalists. Was Molly Byrd, head nurse and Dr. Gillespie's oldest friend who bears Gillespie's grouchiness and insults with humor, in fact a model for Wilson? There are the usual interesting medical cases interspersed with the personal dilemmas of the staff - mainly Red - that comprise the drama. One interesting thing to notice is how the war is brought into the film, in statements that seem over the top and even a bit silly today. For example, even though Keye Luke has been in previous films in this series, it is again stressed at the beginning of the film that he is Chinese, just so nobody thinks there might be anybody of Japanese descent in the cast. Both residents mention how they want the assistantship to Gillespie so they will have a leg up going into the medical corps. At this point the war is almost over. Where have they been all of these years? A very young and lovely Ava Gardner shows up where you least expect her, and she is a woman of mystery to Red. Is Red falling for her or is something else going on here? Watch and find out.
That was the first time Ava Gardner had been credited for a movie .Although Marilyn Maxwell plays the female lead,today everybody knows that the star is Ava .Fortunately ,it's her scenes which are the most endearing in a routine Kildaresque medical melodrama.All that concerns her disabled mama is moving if a bit implausible (dr Miracle) The main plot concerns an old doctor (that was the first time I had found Lionel Barrymore almost unbearable,probably because of a poor direction)who must choose an assistant and tries to decide between two enthusiastic young colleagues ;but both have more than one string to their bow. Van Johnson has also got to make up his mind ,because there are two ladies.
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