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The Secret of Dr. Kildare (1939)

Approved | | Drama | 24 November 1939 (USA)
Dr. Gillespie's cancer has gotten worse, and to force him to take a rest instead of pursuing a sulfa-drug/pneumonia study, Kildare refuses to assist Gillespie, and instead accepts a case of... See full summary »


Harold S. Bucquet


Max Brand (story), Willis Goldbeck | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Lew Ayres ... Dr. James 'Jimmy' Kildare
Lionel Barrymore ... Dr. Leonard Barry Gillespie
Lionel Atwill ... Paul Messenger
Helen Gilbert ... Nancy Messenger
Nat Pendleton ... Joe Wayman
Laraine Day ... Nurse Mary Lamont
Sara Haden ... Nora
Samuel S. Hinds ... Dr. Stephen Kildare
Emma Dunn ... Mrs. Martha Kildare
Walter Kingsford ... Dr. S.J. Carew
Grant Mitchell ... John Xerxes Archley
Alma Kruger ... Head Nurse Molly Byrd
Robert Kent ... Charles Herron
Marie Blake ... Sally - Telephone Operator
Martha O'Driscoll ... Mrs. Roberts


Dr. Gillespie's cancer has gotten worse, and to force him to take a rest instead of pursuing a sulfa-drug/pneumonia study, Kildare refuses to assist Gillespie, and instead accepts a case of hysterical blindness. She's also the daughter of a millionaire who could help the hospital. Written by Kathy Li

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Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »


Sally, Telephone Operator: Of course I work in a hospital, but I don't understand medicine. My brother has been managing a chicken farm for 10 years but he still can't lay an egg.
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Followed by Calling Dr. Gillespie (1942) See more »

User Reviews

"You gave me a hypo, didn't you?"
22 December 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

The third movie in the wonderful Dr. Kildare series from MGM finds Jimmy Kildare (Lew Ayres) trying to help a rich man's daughter who's having some kind of psychological problems that have led to a case of hysterical blindness. Meanwhile, Kildare must also deal with both his father (Samuel S. Hinds) and mentor, Dr. Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore), having illnesses. Gillespie's still fighting his cancer and refusing to rest. Kildare, Sr. is visiting a heart specialist without telling Jimmy.

Ayres and Barrymore are both great. Barrymore's Gillespie gives some tough love to an alcoholic with one of my favorite outbursts of his ("If you drink, it's your own fault and you can't blame your poor ancestors!"). The cast of regulars, including Laraine Day and Nat Pendleton, are terrific. None of them hit a bad note. Pretty Helen Gilbert is the girl with hysterical blindness. She does fine. Lionel Atwill is somewhat wasted as her father. I kept expecting to find out her condition was caused by some mad science experiment of his but, alas, no such luck. Sara Haden and Grant Mitchell also appear in small roles.

It's not the strongest entry in the series but it is enjoyable. One interesting tidbit is that Gillespie refers to hospital head Dr. Carew (Walter Kingsford) as the best doctor in the hospital. Carew is usually displayed in the series as more of a bureaucrat than a competent doctor, let alone 'the best.' It was a nice touch for them to add a layer to the character, even if it's little more than lip service.

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Release Date:

24 November 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Secret of Dr. Kildare See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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