Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

Cinema Monolith: 7/10 The Monolith
IMDb: 7.0/10
Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide: *** out of 4

Released on July 30, 1938
Not rated
87 minutes

Directed by Anatole Litvak

Written by John Wexley and John Huston, based on the play by Barré Lyndon

Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Claire Trevor, Humphrey Bogart, Allen Jenkins, Donald Crisp, Gale Page, Henry O’Neill, Ward Bond, Maxie Rosenbloom, Vladimir Sokoloff, Thurston Hall, Ronald Reagan (voice)

Have you ever gone into a film not knowing anything about it—literally, not one freaking thing—but in the end came out surprisingly entertained, and wondering how you’d ever missed it? That was me and The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, an oddly-titled 1938 crime drama starring Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart, that was hidden inside a four-movie Bogart set—along with the more-recognized High Sierra, The Petrified Forest, and All Through the Night—that’s been sitting on my shelf for years. I finally got around to giving it a try last night, only because I was in the mood for a Bogart movie, and wanted one I’d never seen before.

Of course, at the time I didn’t realize it was a crime film, and had simply assumed by the title that it was a biopic about an extraordinary medical professional who invents a miracle cure for some sort of deadly disease. Well, at least I got the ‘medical professional’ part right; Robinson plays T.S. Clitterhouse, a respected doctor who in his free time robs the homes of the wealthy as part of a research project. He’s hoping to help medical science understand how criminals are affected, both mentally and physically, by unlawful behavior; now, he wants to become involved with ‘real’ thieves, where he can take his studies a step further, while hopefully keeping himself out of harm’s way.

Though Claire Trevor held her own as the gang’s leader, and Bogart was obviously on his way to bigger and better things playing a resentful—and dangerous—gang member, it was still Robinson’s show all the way, and he was outstanding. His acting was smooth and skilled, and I loved how effortlessly he used his knowledge and manner of speaking to manipulate both the gangsters and the authorities…especially during a memorable bit where he smartly backtalks a police lieutenant, earning the respect of the gang. And what made this so amusing was, he was strictly in this scheme for the medical research, never once batting an eye as he mixed it up with thieves and hoodlums, all in the name of science.

This film had three important aspects going for it: Bogart and Trevor in commendable early roles (the supporting cast wasn’t bad, either), the outstanding work of Robinson, and a story that was just different and off-kilter enough to keep you intrigued. I could watch this again strictly for Robinson alone; I can’t remember him ever disappointing me in a role, and he certainly doesn’t here. And though there are better gangster films out there, and there are certainly better Bogarts to be had, if you like your crime on the lighter side, and your Eddie G. performances captivating, then this combination is sure tough to beat.  (7/10)

12 comments on “The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

  1. Eric Binford
    6/17/19

    How did I miss this one? Eddie & Bogie? I’ll have to start looking for it! 🙂

    • Todd Benefiel
      6/18/19

      Ha, I saw ‘Eddie’ and the first image that came to mind was of Eddie Munster, which would’ve made for an interesting movie if he was paired with Bogart! And don’t worry about tracking down Dr. Clitterhouse…I found a pretty good free copy here.

  2. I seem to be starting all my comments with “sorry for the late reply” of late! Todd this sounds really good indeed. We have very similar tastes so I know I’m gonna really like it. I have an amazing amount of Eddie G’s to see. I’ve seen about 6 I think. I’ve seen Double Indemnity, The Stranger, Key Largo, Soylent Green and the TV movie where he tried mocking me as an Old Man who Cried Wolf! I need to see Scarlet Street. As from the poster I wanna see how he plays the spirit of the Hulk? hehe…

    Oh I do have Bullets or Ballots but apart from that I’m pretty clueless on his stuff… so I’m liking the sound of The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse. I will keep an eye out for it. Nice one buddy.

    PS just seen your link above. Cheers.

    • Todd Benefiel
      6/19/19

      Hey Mikey, don’t worry about being tardy…better slightly delayed than never! I’ve seen the same list of Edward GRs that you have, save for The Stranger; I think you’ll like Scarlet Street, too. I also liked The Woman in the Window, Seven Thieves, and The Glass Web. And very funny…I had to take a look at the Scarlet Street poster to see what the freak you were talking about. Hulk, indeed!

      And I was going to give you your OWN link to Clitterhouse, but now that you’ve seen the one above…I’m giving you one anyway. Click here, my UK friend.

      • Hehe why is he green? and why is his green head just floating there? LOL … I will get on the Scarlet Street wagon soon and thanks so much for the other recommends. Really appreciate it buddy.

        And thanks for my very own special link. 🙂

      • Todd Benefiel
        6/24/19

        Cinema Quiz: Name the 1945 film where Edward G. Robinson ingests nuclear radiation before being decapitated, and his floating head goes on a murderous rampage on a street tinted a brilliant shade of red. Answer: Our Vines Have Tender Grapes.

        And consider yourself lucky I didn’t send you your very own missing link!

      • Haha too brilliant LOL… Need to watch that EG Robinson as soon as humanly possible. WordPress needs a “too funny” button rather than just a like… Gonna write to Zuckerberg and see if he knows these WordPress people!

      • Todd Benefiel
        6/25/19

        Ha, you’ll have to let me know when you watch ‘Green Robinson’ in action, and tell me if he’s anything like Zardoz!

  3. Glad you liked this one. It’s a great twist to the typical Warner Bros gangster movies. Bogie plays to type but Eddie gives us that gentle portrait he was so good at when not chomping down on a cigar. Trevor was a really good actress but like Bogie was pretty much type cast in these roles but still she got an Oscar for one of her characters in Key Largo. Oh yeah, opposite Bogie and Eddie.

    • Todd Benefiel
      6/20/19

      Yeah, I was surprised I had such a good time with it…it really opened my eyes to Eddie G’s skills. And I didn’t think about that Bogart/Robinson/Trevor re-team-up in Largo until you mentioned it…I hope they were happy to work with each other again!

  4. Lindsey
    6/22/19

    I’m assuming this must be the bad title/good story film you left me in suspense about? I have skipped over it because of the title, too, haha! It will be on my must-watch list now though, on your recommendation. That cast list is great and Edward G. in particular is always worth tuning in for!

    • Todd Benefiel
      6/24/19

      It is indeed the ‘bad/good’ film, and I’m honored it’s now on your watch list! You’ll recognize a bunch of character actor faces in this, and there were a few players I didn’t recognize who were also quite good; my favorite was a gang member, played by Maxie Rosenbloom, who you can see in the center of the photo above. Looking forward to your review!

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From the Monolith: 124

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