AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE, THE (director: Anatole Litvak; screenwriters: John Wexley/John Huston/from the play by Barré Lyndon; cinematographer: Tony Gaudio; editor: Warren Low; music: Max Steiner; cast: Edward G. Robinson (Dr. Clitterhouse), Claire Trevor (Jo Keller), Humphrey Bogart (Rocks Valentine), Gale Page (Nurse Randolph), Donald Crisp (Inspector Lane), Allen Jenkins (Okay), Thurston Hall (Grant), John Litel (Prosecuting Attorney), Henry O’Neill (Judge), Donald Crisp (Police Inspector Lewis Lane), Maxie Rosenbloom (Butch), Robert Homans (Lieutenant Ethelbert Johnson), Irving Bacon (Foreman of Jury); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Anatole Litvak/Robert Lord; Warner Bros.; 1938)
“Far-fetched but entertaining comedy/gangster melodrama.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Anatole Litvak (“The Night of the Generals”/”The Snake Pit”/”Anastasia”) directs this far-fetched but entertaining comedy/gangster melodrama about a respected Park Avenue physician and researcher psychiatrist, Dr. Clitterhouse (Edward G. Robinson), who while doing research for a book on the criminal psyche joins a gang and resorts to burglary to get first-hand research.
It opens at the Updike society party, where Dr. Clitterhouse is a guest and manages to slip upstairs unnoticed to rob the vault of its jewelry. The good doctor discovers another burglar in the house and leaves him in the room to be caught empty-handed by the police. Meanwhile Clitterhouse leaves with the jewels in his medical bag.
Clitterhouse gets an adrenaline rush from the burglary, and makes contact with the attractive fence Jo (Claire Trevor) and through her joins Rocks’ gang. Then Clitterhouse engineers a series of successful burglaries.
When blackmailed, the good doctor resorts to poisoning the jealous mob boss, Rocks, who fears the smart Clitterhouse will take over the gang. Wishing to get out of his criminal life and return to his professional life, Clitterhouse goes to trial and beats the rap as his attorney (Thurston Hall) pleads insanity. The jury courtroom scenes were ludicrous, but the sentence probably made sense.
It started out as a hit London play by Barre Lyndon and was less well-received when brought to the NYC stage. It was cowritten by John Huston and John Wexley. The film was well-received by critics and did a good box office.
REVIEWED ON 1/8/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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