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This entry in the "Crime Doctor" series (based on the radio program of
the same name) finds our protagonist in Paris giving a lecture on crime
prevention. After the lecture, Dr. Ordway meets a Parisian colleague
who takes him out for a night on the town "with no interruptions"
(i.e., cases to solve). After visiting about half a dozen famous night
clubs (identified by a series of neon logos), they arrive (apparently
cold sober) at one where a knife thrower is performing, and where they
actually engage in some dialog which sets the stage for the future
The next day, Dr. Ordway is introduced by his colleague to an apparent manic-depressive who allegedly killed his father with a letter opener during an argument. While investigating the murder (the "interruption" we of course knew was coming), Dr. Ordway discovers that the case also involves the mysterious theft of art copies.
Like many another movie mystery, explanations that tie up loose ends are offered after the crime is solved, just in case the audience couldn't (or in this case, wasn't given the opportunity) to figure them out as it went along.
Connoisseurs of American film will recognize among a cast of generally unfamiliar French actors, Emory Parnell in a small but pivotal part as art dealer O'Reilly, and Steven Geray as the family attorney of the deceased.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**SPOILERS** Talky and boring "Crime Doctor" movie that showed, being
the next to last of the series, that the "Crime Doctor" Dr. Robert
Ordway was running out of patients and stories. Dr. Ordway had to go so
far as to have the almost incomprehensible story explained during a
rest period in a fight, that he had with the villain. Then after the
Paris Police came to his rescue come up with another explanation and
even later, as the movie ended, explain what happened again in the
police station. With him getting a foot warmer from what turned out to
be the partner, an art dealer, of the killer!
Giving a lecture on crime and mental illness Dr. Ordway is invited by his friend inspector Morrell to examine Henri who claimed that he killed his father but can't remember when or how. Henri had married against his fathers wishes Mignon Duval and he thinks that's why he murdered him. Still he can't remember how it happened and want's to now plead guilty and divorce Mignon in order to avoid her from having the stigma of being married to a convicted murdered.
The movie gets even more confusing with Dr. Ordway and Henri's lawyer Jules Davdel feeling that he's either innocent or insane which will at least, if Henri did in fact murder his dad, spare him from being executed. Just when you think you got a handle to whats happening there's this artist Anton Geroux thrown into the mix who's a friend of both Henri and Mignon. Geroux is involved in copying masterpieces and selling them through his fence art dealer Louis Chebonet as originals.
Everything starts to go haywire in the movie with Mignon's father Jules a professional knife thrower who's suspected in killing Henri's father, he was stabbed to death, who's himself later found dead in his apartment under the covers and under somewhat mysterious circumstances! Later artist Geroux, who's suspected in Henri's fathers murder by Dr. Ordway, is brutally murdered when this unknown assailant breaks into his studio and hacks him to death! This leaves Henri, whom Dr. Ordway is certain is innocent, off the hook since it would have been impossible, with him under 24 hour police observation, for him to have murdered them. This also proves that that since he had nothing to do with Jules & Geroux, who were suspected in his fathers murder, murders he couldn't have murdered his father either!
The big expose in the film to who murdered not only Henri's father but Jules & Geroux as well comes in this long and pointless auction, secretly set up by Dr. Ordawy, of one of the paintings that Henri's father owned that we find out was either a phony or the real deal! The painting was switched by his killer who, feeling that it would be left to him in Henri's fathers will, now has to come out in the open to buy it and thus expose himself.
Just too many subplots to keep up with what's going on and by the time you finally find out who killed Henri's father, together with Jules and Geroux, you couldn't even care less!
By the time the movie is over you feel just like like the "Crime Doctor" who, after the mental and physical beating he took in the movie, just wanted to take the first plane home and forget that he had anything at all to do with this mess.
While visiting an old friend in Paris, the Prefect of Police, the Crime
Doctor gets involved with the complex stabbing murder of an old man
supposedly by his son. The suspect is described as a worthless idler
who suffers from some war-induced psychological problems. But is he
capable of murder? The beautiful Micheline Cheirel (in her last film
role) plays the love interest married and loyal to the suspect but
also the daughter of a knife-thrower who is an old friend of the
The Crime Doctor always seems to know who is lying and telling the truth in the absence of any evidence to support his theories. The defendant's lawyer does not practice criminal law and the defendant does not appear to care whether he lives or dies. Is the only defense insanity? If he gets off the murder charge due to insanity, who inherits? What about a fourteen year-old contract between the murdered man and the knife-thrower? How many more murders? Intrigue in the art world leads the Crime Doctor to the solution.
Interesting dance apache sequences. Directed by future horror-meister William Castle. Fair.
The crime doctor, Dr. Ordway (Warner Baxter) gets involved in an art
scam and murder in Paris in "Crime Doctor's Gamble." Because he's
friendly with the prefecture of police, Ordway, in France to give
lectures, is taken into his confidence about a troubling murder case,
which may just involve a knife thrower appearing at a local club. The
man is accused of killing his own father, and his attorney wants to go
for an insanity plea. When two other murders occur, Ordway sets a trap
to expose the true murderer.
I guess people take these Crime Doctor movies a little more seriously than I do. I found this entertaining, and I loved the wild dancing that took place at the nightclub. This is supposed to be Paris after the war, but we know it's a set at Columbia studios. There are some French actors to give it a little authenticity. In the nightclub, when the next act is announced, it's done in English, however! Baxter is his usual tired, relaxed self. I imagine, having suffered a nervous breakdown, that he was on medication; nevertheless, he gives a warm, kindly performance. Quite different from his manic portrayal in "42nd Street." As far as the psychological jargon being incorrect, it's incorrect in nearly every film from this era, including "The Greatest Show on Earth." Don't let it bother you.
Dr. Ordway, the Crime Doctor, is visiting a friend--a detective in
Paris, France. While they say repeatedly that Ordway's visit is purely
a vacation, the audience KNOWS that sooner or later a crime will occur
and Ordway will be called in to solve it.
This movie is a real shame, as early on the Crime Doctor series was one of the best detective series of the 1940s--maybe even the best. The film really lets down on several levels. First, the acting of everyone is poor. Warner Baxter (Dr. Ordway) looks rather tired but the real problem were the French-accented extras. Many of them simply weren't good actors and I think they were chosen for their accents and other talents seemed incidental. Plus, it was very odd that not a single French person spoke French during the film. Also, the film was very talky and the plot just wasn't all that involving.
An added benefit of my watching the film (since I have significant training and experience with diagnosing mental illness) was that I knew that the psychological talk was mostly mumbo-jumbo. For example, at one point a man was accused of murder and Ordway said "(these are) actions of a typical Manic-Depressive"! Even by 1940s standards for psychiatry, this was a load of bull--Manic-Depression (Bipolar Disorder) is NOT related to murder nor did the man show symptoms of the disorder. I think they just pulled the diagnosis out of a hat! It's a shame, as in earlier Crime Doctor films, they seemed to try to get the psychiatric aspects of the film right.
All in all, a rather limp and pedestrian effort. Not bad, but far from the brilliance of the first few films of the series.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
That's what the Crime Doctor must determine when the son-in-law of a knife thrower is sentenced for killing his father who disapproved of his marriage. This film also involves a painter of copies of classic paintings and culminates with an auction where Warner Baxter (in one of his last of this series) hopes to trap the guilty party who has already added several other corpses to the pile. As with other films in the series, this has many convoluted clues to prevent the audience from figuring out who the killer is. There are however, some interesting tidbits concerning the Parisan art world, including some ironic ways of figuring out if a painting is an original or a copy. Late in the series, it is definitely showing its age, especially when compared to the other detective stories of the time (now more film noir) rather than "series" films which were slowly disappearing from the bottom half of double bills.
Crime Doctor's Gamble (1947)
** 1/2 (out of 4)
William Castle directs this ninth entry in the Columbia series. This time Dr. Ordway (Warner Baxter) is on vacation in Paris when a man is accused of killing his father. Once again, this is on par with the rest of the series, although I'd place this one near the top. Just like the previous film in the series, it's a nice break getting out of the city and the Paris streets make for some nice moments. Baxter has his act down and the supporting cast is also a step above normal.
Pretty good considering this is the 9th film in the series.
This Dr. Ordway story has to be one of the weaker entries in the
series. First of all, there's too much exposition going on for the
first half-hour, all talk and no action. The plot involves art
forgeries, art dealers, a painter who specializes in making copies of
original art, and a knife-throwing act--all of which take up a lot of
time for WARNER BAXTER to unravel.
Through it all, we get an assortment of authentic French accents from most of the cast, with the exception of STEVEN GERAY who plays the art dealer.
But as in all the Dr. Ordway stories, his scheme to hold an auction is really a trap to catch the killer. Despite all the exposition, the plot is a murky one that seems a bit far-fetched when you stop to think about it.
The only other actor in the cast known to American audiences is EDUARDO CIANNELLI as the knife-thrower who becomes just one of the suspects until he unceremoniously dies in his sleep. This plot device doesn't leave much surprise in the revelation of the actual thief and murderer.
Summing up: The other crime doctor films are much better than this one.
Warner Baxter goes to Paris in Crime Doctor's Gamble ostensibly to give
a lecture, but mostly for a little rest and relaxation. But Inspector
Marcel Journet kind of sandbags him into a mystery where a young artist
is accused of killing his father. Journet is not convinced Roger Dann
did do it or it is a case of temporary in sanity as he and the accused
were in a concentration camp together during the late war. Dr. Robert
Ordway is intrigued right into a little free consultation.
Dann was a rich kid who left his good surroundings to be a painter and he fell for a girl who was from the wrong side of the tracks. He married a nightclub performer and dad was going to cut him off.
What makes this one work is the nice cast of continental actors falling into good typecasting and the fact the motive is miles from what the police originally thought. A couple of bodies later and Dr. Ordway finds the killer. In fact Baxter has a nice fight scene with the murderer, something the cerebral Dr. Ordway usually doesn't do.
They never leave the Columbia back lot, but Crime Doctor's Gamble is something you can take a chance on.
This low budget series of films starring Warner Baxter, (Robert Ordway) were great on the radio years ago and when the radio audiences could actually go to their local movies in town, it was great for them to see these Crime Doctor films. This type of film was usually shown along with another feature film a newsreel of current events in the world and then a few cartoons. In this film, Dr. Robert Ordway had a few lectures to give in Paris and managed to get himself involved with a murder and then an Art Dealer scheme to sell fake Classic Pictures of art for just imitation prints for large sums of money. Dr. Ordway is rewarded for his efforts to an antique foot warmer for his bed. End of Story.
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