Watching 1939: The Return of Doctor X (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  The Return of Doctor X (1939)

Release date: 
Nov. 23, 1939

Cast: 
Humphrey Bogart, Rosemary Lane, Wayne Morris, Dennis Morgan, John Litel, Lya Lys, Huntz Hall, Charles C. Wilson, Vera Lewis, Olin Howland, John Ridgely, William Hopper (as DeWolf Hopper), Ian Wolfe (uncredited)

Studio: 
Warner Bros.

Director: 
Vincent Sherman

Plot:
Reporter Walter Garrett (Morris) starts discovering strange murders where each victim seems drained of their blood, and each has the same blood type. The police and Walter’s editors don’t believe him about the murders. With the help of doctor Michael Rhodes (Morgan), the two try to uncover the murderer. They go to hematologist Dr. Francis Flegg (Litel) and meet his strange, pale assistant Marshall Quesne (Bogart).

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Watching 1939: Torture Ship (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film: 
Torture Ship (1939)

Release date: 
Oct. 28, 1939

Cast: 
Lyle Talbot, Irving Pichel, Julie Bishop (as Jacqueline Wells), Sheila Bromley, Anthony Averill, Russell Hopton, Skelton Knaggs

Studio: 
Sigmund Neufeld Productions

Director: 
Victor Halperin

Plot:
Dr. Herbert Stander (Pichel) who wants to do experiments to learn more about the criminal mind. He charters a ship captained by his nephew, Lt. Bob Bennett (Talbot), who was unaware of his uncle’s plans. All of the passengers on the ship are criminals and will be tested by Dr. Stander. Joan Martel (Bishop/Wells) mistakenly gets on the boat and Bob tries to keep her from going under Dr. Stander’s knife.

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Watching 1939: The Gorilla (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film:  The Gorilla (1939)

Release date:  May 26, 1939

Cast:  Jimmy Ritz, Harry Ritz, Al Ritz (the Ritz Brothers), Anita Louise, Patsy Kelly, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Joseph Calleia, Edward Norris, Paul Harvey, Art Miles

Studio:  20th Century Fox

Director:  Allan Dwan

Plot:
The Gorilla is a murderer on the lose, and Walter Stevens (Atwill) is warned that he has just 24 hours to live. His niece Norma (Louise) and her finance Jack (Norris) come to visit on the eve of this threat. Stevens hires the Ritz Brothers of the Acme Detective Agency to protect him.

1939 Notes:

  • “The Gorilla” (1939) resulted in the end of The Ritz Brothers’ relationship with 20th Century Fox. The film was delayed when The Ritz Brothers’ father died. Because of this, Fox placed a $150,000 suit against the Ritz brothers for a breach of contract as the film was slated to start production. “The Gorilla” is one of three films the Ritz Brothers were in in 1939.
  • Lionel Atwill was in nine films released in 1939.
  • Patsy Kelly’s only film of 1939.
  • Anita Louise was in six films released in 1939.
  • Joseph Calleia was in five films in 1939.
  • Paul Harvey was in nine films released in 1939.

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