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Thursday, July 22, 2010

THE AMAZING DR. CLITTERHOUSE (1938)


Comic-tinged thriller about a society doctor (Edw. G Robinson) who sidelines as a jewel burglar. He’s not out for riches, but for medical research. Soon, he's hanging around with a most attractive ‘fence’ (Claire Trevor) and taking charge of Humphrey Bogart’s motley gang of thieves. (He monitors their vital signs right in the middle of their robberies.) Will he be able to make a clean break once his ‘research’ is done or will he wind up ‘studying’ homicide . . . and liking it? Warner Bros was an unlikely studio for the light touch needed to make this story work, but thanks to Continental helmer Anatole Litvak (who avoids their normal rat-a-tat pace) and co-scripter John Huston (who doesn’t over-milk the comedy), there’s enough wit & sophistication to pull this off. And how it glistens under Tony Gaudio’s rapt lens.


CONTEST: LADYKILLERS/’55 stole a nice gag from here, and Joseph Heller might well have found a mirror-image draft of his CATCH 22 clause in a bit of Shavian wordplay in this script. Find both to win a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up of the NetFlix DVD of your choice.

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