The Mysterious Doctor
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"Those early jobs were all good preparation for me. They taught me what not to do," said Eleanor Parker of her apprenticeship in "B" movies at Warner Bros., the studio where she began her movie career. Among the porcelain-like beauty's early assignments was The Mysterious Doctor (1943), in which Parker plays an English heroine involved in eerie goings-on in a remote Cornwall mining town called Morgan's Head. As local legend would have it, the town is haunted by a decapitated pirate whose murderous spirit has returned in search of his missing head. As revealed in a far-fetched plot development of this wartime thriller, the real villain is a Nazi spy!
With a fog-enshrouded atmosphere suggestive of the Sherlock Holmes movies made by rival studio 20th Century Fox, The Mysterious Doctor even features a title character, played by Lester Matthews, whose name is Dr. Frederick Holmes. Also notable among the cast is Matt Willis as a convincing village idiot.
Otis L. Guernsey Jr., writing in the New York Herald Tribune, was kind to The Mysterious Doctor despite its modest ambitions. "Those who like their murder mysteries combined with the supernatural should find The Mysterious Doctor entertaining," he wrote. "Eleanor Parker and others play their parts for all the excitement that this fantastic tale is worth." The year after the film was released, Parker moved on to "A" features and would later earn Best Actress Oscar nominations for Caged (1950), Detective Story (1951) and Interrupted Melody (1955).
Producer: William Jacobs
Director: Benjamin Stoloff
Screenplay: Richard Weil
Cinematography: Henry Sharp
Art Direction: Charles Novi
Original Music: Howard Jackson, William Lava, Hans Sommer (all uncredited)
Editing: Clarence Kolster
Costume Design: Milo Anderson
Principal Cast: John Loder (Sir Henry Leland), Eleanor Parker (Letty Carstairs), Bruce Lester (Lt. Christopher "Kit" Hilton), Lester Matthews (Dr. Frederick Holmes), Forrester Harvey (Hugh Penhryn), Matt Willis (Bart Redmond).
By Roger Fristoe