The Mad Doctor
Cast & Crew
Barbara Allen "vera Vague"
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.
Barbara Allen "vera Vague"
A. E. Freudeman
Howard J. Green
Ellen Drew, 1914-2003
She was born Esther Loretta "Terry" Ray on November 23, 1914, in Kansas City, Missouri. The daughter of a barber, her family moved to Chicago when she was still an infant and she lived a very quiet childhood far removed from the glamour of Hollywood. She was encouraged by some friends to enter a beauty contest when she was just 17. After winning, she tried her luck in Hollywood, but found that they were no immediate offers for her particular talents.
She eventually took a waitressing job at C.C. Brown's, a famed Hollywood Boulevard soda fountain, and had virtually abandoned her dreams as a starlet when William Demarest, a popular actor's agent and well-known character actor, spotted her. Demarest arranged a screen test for her at Paramount, and she was promptly placed under contract for $50 a week.
For the first few years, (1936-38), Drew got only bit parts, and was often uncredited. When she finally got prominent billing in the Bing Crosby musical Sing You Sinners (1938), she decided to change her name, from Terry Ray to Ellen Drew. She earned her first major role in Frank Lloyd's If I Were King (1938) opposite Ronald Colman, yet for the most part of her career, rarely rose above "B" material and second leads. Still, she had some fine exceptions: Preston Sturges' enchanting comedy Christmas in July (1940), with Dick Powell; Tay Garnett's lighthearted war romp My Favorite Spy (1942) co-starring Kay Kyser; Julien Duvivier's taut The Imposter (1944), holding her own with a brooding Jean Gabin; and Mark Robson's chilling low-budget chiller Isle of the Dead (1945) opposite Boris Karloff. Drew made some notable television appearances in the late '50s including Perry Mason and The Barbara Stanwyck Show, before retiring from the entertainment industry. She is survived by her son David; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Ellen Drew, 1914-2003
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. Hollywood Reporter 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 Hollywood Reporter 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."