The Amazing Doctor Clitterhouse

  • 1938
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime

Robinson is a book-writing criminologist (Dr. Clitterhouse) fascinated with hoodlums and thieves, so eager to test the physiological reactions of criminals at the time of their crimes--do they sweat, does the heart beat faster, when does panic set in?--that he actually commits several jewel robberies, then contacts an infamous fence who turns out to be Trevor....read more

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Robinson is a book-writing criminologist (Dr. Clitterhouse) fascinated with hoodlums and thieves, so eager to test the physiological reactions of criminals at the time of their crimes--do they sweat, does the heart beat faster, when does panic set in?--that he actually commits several jewel robberies, then contacts an infamous fence who turns out to be Trevor. She, in turn, introduces Robinson to a gang of super crooks headed by Bogart (with the unmistakably professional name of "Rocks Valentine"), and he masterminds several jobs for them. Bogart becomes jealous of Robinson's natural leadership abilities; Robinson appears to be taking over the gang out of sheer brain power. Bogie locks Robinson in a cold-storage vault during a fur heist. Rosenbloom, Trevor's right-hand man, rescues Robinson, who decides it is time to forsake the criminal world. He returns to his practice, but Bogart trails him and threatens to expose him as a thief unless he goes on masterminding robberies for him. Pretending to accept the proposition, Robinson pours Bogart a drink, slipping poison into it. He records Bogie's every twitch, with the help of ever-faithful nurse Page, until the gangster dies. Next he turns himself in, and while Trevor, Page, and Crisp, a visiting Scotland Yard inspector startled by the whole fantastic story, watch dumbfounded in court, Robinson pleads guilty to murdering Bogart by reason of insanity. Once on the witness stand, he adamantly states

that he was sane when he poisoned the crook; he did it to advance the cause of psychological science, don't you see? The jury does see what they think is a crazy man. Only an insane person would plead insanity then claim soundness of mind. With this their only rationale, jury members vote to free

Robinson who goes off, chatting with nurse Page on one arm and fence Trevor on the other. The mere impossibility of this plot, taken from a drama originally starring Cedric Hardwicke in England and on Broadway, coupled with Robinson's bemused and farcically constructed character, makes this an

entertaining satire on the entire gangster cycle so energetically produced by Warner Bros. Wexley and Huston's script is full of sharp, bantering dialog, and Litvak's whose directorial genius cleverly caricatures the filmic nightmares that earlier lurked inside Germany's UFA studios.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Robinson is a book-writing criminologist (Dr. Clitterhouse) fascinated with hoodlums and thieves, so eager to test the physiological reactions of criminals at the time of their crimes--do they sweat, does the heart beat faster, when does panic set in?--tha… (more)

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