The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy  |   Release Date - Jul 30, 1938 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

It's hard to know, of course, but watching The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, one gets the impression that this was a film that changed significantly between conception and execution. The oddly named Clitterhouse is an uneasy mix of crime comedy and crime drama. It could easily have succeeded as either one, but the creators couldn't seem to make up their minds which way to go. The end result is neither fish nor fowl, just a mess with some delectable parts. Certainly it has a formidable cast, what with the likes of Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, Claire Trevor, and Donald Crisp. But there are even problems with these actors. Robinson and Bogart, for example, seem to be acting in two totally different films, due to the schizophrenic nature of the piece. Robinson is quite good, but he brings a bit too much warmth and humanity to the role. The part was originally played on-stage by the very British Cedric Hardwicke, and the more detached, clinical approach he probably brought to the part is something that Robinson could have used a bit more of; it's there with Robinson, but it keeps getting undercut. The basic premise of The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse is intriguing; it's a shame that the final product is not better.