The Mad Doctor (1941)

Article #1014 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-24-2003
Posting Date: 5-22-2003
Directed by Tim Whelan
Featuring Basil Rathbone, Ellen Drew, John Howard

A psychiatrist who marries women for their money and then murders them decides to turn over a new leaf, but his past catches up with him.

Despite the title, this isn’t a horror movie in the usual sense, though it nudges up against the genre due to its use of the theme of madness and the appearance of a graveyard scene. It has a good cast, with Basil Rathbone, Ralph Morgan and Martin Kosleck all up to their usual standards, and it works up a decent amount of suspense in the second half. However, it tries a little too hard to turn the murderer into something of a sympathetic character, which doesn’t quite work here because it’s hard to find sympathy with a serial murderer who seems to know precisely what he’s doing and why, and though Rathbone is a fine actor, his character always seems far too much in control of himself to really lead us to believe that he can’t help what he’s doing. Consequently, there are some parts of the movie that don’t work very well; the middle section gets a little too drawn out, and the very ending is rather unsatisfying. This one is largely worth catching for the familiar faces.

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