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The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 30 July 1938 (USA)
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Black comedy about a brilliant Park Avenue doctor who becomes a criminal in order to do research into the criminal mind.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Dr. Clitterhouse
... Jo Keller
... 'Rocks' Valentine
... Okay
... Inspector Lane
... Nurse Randolph
... Judge
... Prosecuting Attorney
... Grant
... Butch
Bert Hanlon ... Pat
... Rabbit
... Tug
... Popus
Billy Wayne ... Candy
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Storyline

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 <col@imdb.com>

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. . . a thunderbolt of thrills and intrigue

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

30 July 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Amazing Doctor Clitterhouse  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Carl Laemmle Jr., Paramount and MGM bid for the rights to the play. Laemmle bought them for over $50,000. He then turned them around and sold them to Warners in return for the loan of Paul Muni for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame", a film that never got made. See more »

Goofs

In the final newspaper to appear in the newspaper montage, the subheading misspells the word "clue." The subheading reads "Harbor Police Hunt for Murder Motive as Surgeons Find a Puzzling Clew." See more »

Quotes

'Rocks' Valentine: Okay, Jo, make a deal with this guy. He's getting in my hair.
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Connections

Version of The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Una Voce Poca Fa
(1816) (uncredited)
Written by Gioachino Rossini from "The Barber of Seville"
Sung by unidentified soprano in salon in opening scene
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User Reviews

 
Lighthearted crime film with a quirky, great Robinson in the lead
8 September 2013 | by See all my reviews

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)

Don't get your hopes up for a lost Warner Bros. classic. This is good stuff, fun and all, and it does star Edward G. Robinson in his prime, but the plot is too clever and cute for its own good, and the lighthearted feel makes it sometimes almost trivial. As if the movie makers themselves know this is a throwaway.

Not to knock it too hard. It does have Humphrey Bogart about to become a famous star, and it has Claire Trevor in the role as a moll (which is a bit odd for her, but you should see her in "Born to Kill" for her best at this).

Robinson plays a doctor who is so detached from reality he decides to research the physiology of criminals while they are committing a crime (pupil dilation, blood pressure, etc.). And since that's hard to do, he starts doing his own crimes. And since he's a celebrated doctor, he gets away with all of them. At first you think, how fun! And you expect it to really wind up into either a crazy comedy or a real crime thriller with the downfall of this great man.

It avoids either and ends up in a kind of compromise. It's sometimes funny, and it has elements of watching this man get himself cornered by his own activities. There is no pathos here, however, and the humor is breezy, not hilarious. Bogart and Trevor are the more serious side, but they are used to offset Robinson in his slightly silly role. In all, the plot churns along and you end up enjoying the details, the acting, the dark Warner Bros. filming.

The director is worth noting. Anatole Litvak, whose style using dramatic light and moving camera is evident here. He also had a tendency for melodrama, which is not apparent at all. He had just come to the US for a four year contract with the huge Warner Bros. and this was his second film with them. I assume that required adjustment. You can, oddly, still (perhaps) feel his style in the way scenes are laid out and shot.

A well-made but trivial film? There were lots of them, and this is completely enjoyable. And Robinson, as always, is wonderful.


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