Dr. Clitterhouse is fascinated with the working of the criminal mind. His interest is so deep that he finds the best way to observe criminals in action is to become one himself. Whilst robbing a safe at an exclusive party he stumbles across an organized gang trying to do the same thing. He teams up with the gang to observe them in action but one of the members, Rocks Valentine would like nothing better than to see Clitterhouse out of the way.Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Bogart Burning and Biding his time, while Robinson is a Gentleman
As was pointed out in another review, THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE was a play, originally , starring Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the polished society doctor who is writing a book on the criminal mind, and needs to become a criminal to get his research. I would have liked to have seen the film with Hardwicke, who probably was a better fit in the part. Screen audiences knew Eddie Robinson could be a brutal, thuggish gangster, like Enrico Bandello in LITTLE CAESAR. He could be funny, like Arthur Jones and Killer Mannion in THE WHOLE TOWN IS TALKING or as Remy Marko in A SLIGHT CASE OF MURDER. But they had little idea of the polished intellectual that Robinson, the art collector, was in real life. He would not really reveal this part of his personality until the 1950s, when he occasionally appeared on game shows and talk shows discussing art. But Hardwicke looked the part of the learned doctor, and had enough restrained threat to look like he could plan and carry out real crimes as well.
But Warner Brothers starred him in THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE, presumably to give him a chance to play another comic role, and also to let him stretch his acting abilities. He does well with the role, but he seems less natural in the part (as Hardwicke would have been) than slightly mannered. I think, having seen Sir Cedric on stage, Robinson was trying to overcompensate - and it does not quite work.
As the doctor Robinson was convincing as a lucky dilettante, but not as a serious researcher. It is really the performances of the supporting cast, particularly Humphrey Bogart as "Rocks Valentine", Claire Trevor, and Maxie Rosenbloom. They give real color to the story, particularly Bogie as a vicious type who hates seeing how effortlessly the brilliant Clitterhouse takes leadership of his gang away from him. Bogie's Rocks keeps looking for his opportunities, and even tries to freeze the doctor to death (leading to a powerful moment on the film when a furious Rosenbloom almost pounds him in retaliation). And his attempts to get the goods on Clitterhouse, inevitably, lead to an unexpected tragedy.
Robinson was less than happy with the film - he was right to be. Bogart considered this one of a series (with BULLETS AND BALLOTS, KID GALLAHAD, and BROTHER ORCHID where he and Robinson were rival criminals, and in two of which they killed each other at the conclusion).
He had made THE PETRIFIED FOREST two years before, and DEAD END the year before, and should have been on the way to stardom, but found himself second banana to Robinson or to Cagney, and he was getting fed up. He felt that CLITTERHOUSE was an absolute waste of time, and referred to it by another name, THE AMAZING DR. CLITORIS. It would still be three more years before Bogie would make HIGH SIERRA and THE MALTESE FALCON, and find the stardom that had eluded him in the 1930s.
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