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Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse
- Bruce Reber
"The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse" (Warner Bros. 1938) is an obscure and offbeat crime drama about a psychologist (Edward G. Robinson) who wants to better understand the criminal mind and becomes a crook himself, and then joins up with Humphrey Bogart's gang. Robinson, Bogart and Claire Trevor would reunite a decade later for director John Huston's classic film noir "Key Largo".
- Les White
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse is indeed amazing! I show it in my Psychology of Personality class to demonstrate the biological perspective of personality and the scientific method. As Dr. Clitterhouse says, his study is not a psychological study of the criminal mind, but rather how events, in this case the crimes, change the biological make-up of individuals so that engaging in crime becomes an addiction-of-sorts. In other words, it's like today's theory of the dopamine reward system: one craves to enact certain behaviors because of the excitement and high provided by the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Indeed, Dr. Clitterhouse compares the rush he gets from committing crimes to the feeling one gets from champagne. It isn't too long before Dr. Clitterhouse is compelled to commit the ultimate crime, murder, to feel the ultimate high. His checking the physiological vital signs of himself and his criminal cohorts before and after their criminal acts shows how scientists collect data to try to prove their hypotheses. All in all, The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse is indeed amazing! The pace is quick, the performances are classic Robinson, Trevor, and Bogart performances, and the direction is superb! Anatole Litvak moves his camera almost as much and as elegantly as Max Ophuls does! When my college students first see the credits of the movie they groan because it's old and in black and white; by the end of the movie they're cheering it on. I cannot tell you how many of my college students tell me that it helps them to understand the interplay between the physiological and the environment, Hans Eysenck's theory of the nervous system, and the importance scientists today place on methodology or the collection of data!
Unique and engaging film
- Mr. Blandings
Robinson expertly portrays the intellectually superior but morally challenged scientist. The scene at the end with Robinson and Bogart is chilling. As dark comedy goes, this one is highly watchable, made interesting by Robinson's performance and the film's glib criticisms of society.
Odd little gem
- michael passe
This strange blend of dry British comedy and tough-cracker crime drama seems to have slipped through the cracks in classic film discussions, but I found it enjoyable from start to finish. When you see Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart in starring roles, you mugs are gonna think, oh, a gangster flick. But you're only half right, see? Dr. Clitterhouse is a hyper-intellectual, society doctor whose obsession is to learn more about what makes a criminal, well, different from the rest of us, which he does by becoming one. Yes, it's preposterous, but maybe not so much in 1938, a time when the sort of social Darwinism that lies at the heart of the film had much more credibility. As in "Frankenstein," people really believed there was a physical difference between criminal and "normal" brains. Dr. Clitterhouse wants to examine this first-hand by joining up with a gang of crooks led by Bogart as "Rocks" Valentine. Is Clitterhouse utterly brilliant? Yes. He's so much smarter than everyone around him that he quickly gains control of the gang. Is he also stupid? Well naive at least, as he doesn't seem to grasp the real danger he is in. Will he get away with his scheme? Will he get past the Hays code and prove that crime CAN pay, at least for the wealthy and well-connected ? It all ends in improbably, almost screwball-comedy fashion. Along the way the film satirizes social mores, ivory tower intellectuals, the media, and even Robinson's own gangster personna. Robinson is superbly smooth, adding his own voice to what seems a quintessentially British role, commanding every scene he is in. Bogart, three years before "High Sierra" made him an A-list star, is typecast again as a gangster. But he is electrifying as the vicious Rocks Valentine, oozing danger in every scene. There are some genuine laughs, a bit of sharp social commentary, and yes, a gangster flick, all presented in a fast-paced film that held my interest from start to finish. Amazing.
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)
- Jay Higgins
Edward G. Robinson is wonderful, as always, great supporting cast, excellent screenplay, fine score. A very entertaining and overlooked classic.
- wayne r
I caught most of this movie one night, and wondered why few have seen or even heard of this title before. To me, it is a lost gem of the works portrayed by E.G.Robinson and/or H.Bogart. Great Sleeper. Please, run this one, again. Scarlet Street is another great,but rarely seen in the mystery genre. Please run that one also. Thank you.
This title...I can't believe the title. I love it. Release this in another Bogie or Robinson DVD set.