The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse

[Screenshot]This one is a fairly solid vehicle for both Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson. I picked it up mostly for the Bogart appeal, although his performance is ridiculously hammy, as are most of the career-criminals. Robinson is surprisingly nuanced although one can only do so much with a “miscellaneous scientist” role (presumably he’s doing some sort of physiological analysis of psychological stimuli, but the only way to relay that to a 30s audience is by making him obsessively administer physical examinations). Claire Trevor, who gets short shrift to the two stars, actually puts in an excellent performance as their fence.

At the end of the day, this is a pretty odd duck. Robinson and Bogart are at home in a WB crime film, but Clitterhouse has a vein of situational comedy that they don’t quite seem suited to. I can’t help but wonder what might happen in an alternate universe where this film was made a few decades later, and not by WB, who were reaching a bit beyond their usual fare, but by Ealing Studios, who loved stuff like this. The title character could be Alec Guinness, who could probably just reuse his wardrobe from The Man in the White Suit; Rocks Valentine could be Peter Sellers perhaps, and Jo Keller could be, well, still played by Claire Trevor, as far as I’m concerned. Not that this film is bad as it is, mind, but it’s reminiscent of a different kind of crime-caper film.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.


About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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