The Mad Doctor (1941)

90 mins | Drama | 14 February 1941

Director:

Tim Whelan

Writer:

Howard J. Green

Producer:

George M. Arthur

Cinematographer:

Ted Tetzlaff

Editor:

Archie Marshek

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Robert Usher

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were A Date with Destiny and Destiny . Although screen credits and the Paramount Produced Properties listing indicate that the film is based on a screenplay by Howard J. Green, early drafts of the screenplay, titled The Monster and re-titled Destiny , were written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The contributions of Hecht and MacArthur to the final screenplay have not been confirmed. HR news items indicate that actors Ruth Rogers, Wanda McKay and Max Wagner were cast in the film; however, their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to modern sources, Basil Rathbone did not accept his part in this film until specific changes were made to the script. The HR review called the film "one of the top efforts of its type" due to the "beautifully imaginative direction of Tim Whelan and the stunning performance of Basil ... More Less

The working titles of this film were A Date with Destiny and Destiny . Although screen credits and the Paramount Produced Properties listing indicate that the film is based on a screenplay by Howard J. Green, early drafts of the screenplay, titled The Monster and re-titled Destiny , were written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The contributions of Hecht and MacArthur to the final screenplay have not been confirmed. HR news items indicate that actors Ruth Rogers, Wanda McKay and Max Wagner were cast in the film; however, their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. According to modern sources, Basil Rathbone did not accept his part in this film until specific changes were made to the script. The HR review called the film "one of the top efforts of its type" due to the "beautifully imaginative direction of Tim Whelan and the stunning performance of Basil Rathbone." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Feb 1941.
---
Daily Variety
5 Feb 1941.
---
Film Daily
4 Mar 41
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Feb 41
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
8 Feb 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
11 Jan 41
p. 43.
New York Times
27 Feb 41
p. 23.
Variety
5 Mar 41
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Destiny
A Date with Destiny
Release Date:
14 February 1941
Production Date:
22 January--mid March 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1940
Copyright Number:
LP10261
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in feet):
8,161
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
6061
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In the middle of a rainy night, Midbury physician Dr. Charles Downer is awakened and summoned to the home of psychologist George Sebastien to treat Sebastien's wife. When he arrives, however, Sebastien tells Downer that his wife has already died of pneumonia. Downer returns home sadly and considers ordering an autopsy because he is sure that his patient had been recovering. Shortly afterward, Sebastien leaves Midbury for New York, accompanied by his servant and companion, Maurice Gretz. In New York, Sebastien revives his practice as a psychoanalyst and is called upon to treat Linda Boothe, a beautiful young woman who is severely depressed and suicidal. Even though she is engaged to newspaperman Gil Sawyer, Sebastien plots with Maurice to marry Linda, kill her and claim her inheritance, just as he had done with his first two wives. Gil, suspicious of all analysts, publishes articles questioning psychology and conducts his own investigation into Sebastien's past. When Gil questions his ethics in front of Linda, her sister Louise and brother-in-law, Lawrence Watkin, Sebastien hypnotizes Linda into reliving her childhood memory of her father's violent death, and her wish to join him. Sebastien reveals that Linda has been acting on that childhood wish, and now, having relived the incident, is cured. Later, while Gil is in Savannah researching Sebastien's past, Sebastien and Linda fall in love. Gil discovers that Sebastien's first wife also died of pneumonia, and after he reveals this information to Downer, Downer orders the exhumation of Sebastien's second wife's body. In New York, Sebastien has sincerely fallen in love with Linda, and relates to her the story of a Berlin man who murdered his adulterous ... +


In the middle of a rainy night, Midbury physician Dr. Charles Downer is awakened and summoned to the home of psychologist George Sebastien to treat Sebastien's wife. When he arrives, however, Sebastien tells Downer that his wife has already died of pneumonia. Downer returns home sadly and considers ordering an autopsy because he is sure that his patient had been recovering. Shortly afterward, Sebastien leaves Midbury for New York, accompanied by his servant and companion, Maurice Gretz. In New York, Sebastien revives his practice as a psychoanalyst and is called upon to treat Linda Boothe, a beautiful young woman who is severely depressed and suicidal. Even though she is engaged to newspaperman Gil Sawyer, Sebastien plots with Maurice to marry Linda, kill her and claim her inheritance, just as he had done with his first two wives. Gil, suspicious of all analysts, publishes articles questioning psychology and conducts his own investigation into Sebastien's past. When Gil questions his ethics in front of Linda, her sister Louise and brother-in-law, Lawrence Watkin, Sebastien hypnotizes Linda into reliving her childhood memory of her father's violent death, and her wish to join him. Sebastien reveals that Linda has been acting on that childhood wish, and now, having relived the incident, is cured. Later, while Gil is in Savannah researching Sebastien's past, Sebastien and Linda fall in love. Gil discovers that Sebastien's first wife also died of pneumonia, and after he reveals this information to Downer, Downer orders the exhumation of Sebastien's second wife's body. In New York, Sebastien has sincerely fallen in love with Linda, and relates to her the story of a Berlin man who murdered his adulterous wife and her lover, and hated all women from that point on until recently, when his bitterness dissolved. Linda never suspects that the murderer in his story is Sebastien. Sebastien later panics when he reads of the exhumation in the newspaper and sends Maurice to Midbury to steal the body. While doing so, Maurice kills the night watchman at the cemetery. Sebastien rushes his wedding to the unsuspecting Linda so that they can immediately leave the country. Downer travels to New York, and while doing research in the public library, discovers a medical yearbook from Vienna which reveals that Sebastien is really Dr. Frederick Langamann and was convicted of a double murder in Austria and escaped from prison. Downer calls Linda and, after revealing Sebastien's sordid past, arranges to meet her at a subway station. Sebastien and Maurice get to him first, however, and push him to his death in front of a subway train. As he tries to leave the station, Maurice is killed by an Austrian policeman, who recognizes him as Langamann's partner in crime. Linda, who saw Sebastien leave the scene of Downer's death, faints after he reveals his true identity. Sebastien carries her to the balcony of her apartment, intending to commit suicide and take her with him, but Gil and the police arrive first. Sebastien leaves Linda resting, then walks out on a narrow ledge of the building. As the police near him, Sebastien falls to his death. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.