Thursday, January 28, 2010

In short: The Strange Case Of Doctor Rx (1942)

A mysterious murderer calling himself Dr. Rx (whatever that means) goes around killing gangsters who have slipped through the legal net. Yup, the trope is that old.

Might by any chance Lionel Atwill be the mysterious vigilante, or is he just randomly flashing his glasses into the camera?

Genius private eye Jerry Church (Patric Knowles) is on the case, or at least talking a lot about it while still finding time for a random off-screen marriage to a certain Kit (Anne Gwynne), girl crime writer. Will our hero persist in his dogged pursuit (aka sitting around talking) even when the evil Doctor threatens his life?

By 1942, all appearance of class (and a lot of the talent behind the camera) had left the Universal studios, and they were churning out dire little numbers like this one, directed by long-time Monogram director William Nigh. Nigh probably still had a lot more money to work with than he was used to from his Poverty Row endeavours, but unfortunately didn't have much talent to put that money to good use.

If your ideal mystery is one in which no actual detective work is taking place and nothing at all happens, and if your perfect film is one showing nothing worth looking at, you will find The Strange Case of Doctor Rx to be the best film ever. Otherwise, you'll probably just wish for the pain to stop.

To add insult to injury, the movie's victims/viewers also have to survive the soft attentions of one of the Three Stooges (I honestly don't give a toss which of them the guy is) and Mantan Moreland's usual racist stick, both probably added to drag the film from "boring" into the seldom reached circle of hell reserved for the completely unwatchable.


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