The Mad Doctor (1941)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Feb 14, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Hans J. Wollstein

Perhaps it is the pulp fiction title, but The Mad Doctor has been lumped in with Universal's latter-day monster rallies and gone down in history as something of a B-movie. Nothing could be further from the truth, alas. The appearance alone of Basil Rathbone in one of his most deliciously naughty roles -- complete with plenty of homoerotic undercurrents -- ought to persuade even the most skeptic viewer that this is no mere shock fest. Long in gestation, The Mad Doctor was originally titled "A Date With Destiny," a much more appropriate title since that is exactly what is in store for lissome Ellen Drew, and was at one point or another planned as a vehicle for John Barrymore, and, believe it or not, Noel Coward. Traces of the latter's personality remain in the final script, which offers some choice dialogue between Rathbone and his aide, the eminently watchable Martin Kosleck. In his first assignment after returning to Hollywood from Great Britain, Tim Whelan directed with much more deliberation than afforded most films of this genre (at least until MGM remade Gaslight in 1944) and the result is an atmospheric thriller that ought to be much better-known today than seems to be the case.