Calling Dr. Death (1943)

Calling Dr. Death (1943)

“I have no alibi — don’t even know where I was.”

When his faithless wife (Ramsay Ames) is found murdered, a neurologist (Lon Chaney, Jr.) who is perhaps overly fond of his beautiful nurse (Patricia Morison) becomes the prime suspect. Soon Ames’s lover (David Bruce) is accused instead, but the investigating detective on the case (J. Carrol Naish) refuses to leave Chaney alone.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Amnesia
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Falsely Accused
  • Lon Chaney, Jr. Films
  • Murder Mystery

The first of Universal Studios’ “Inner Sanctum” films (inspired by the popular radio series of the same name), this surprisingly dull murder mystery stars Lon Chaney, Jr. as an unhappily married doctor who suffers from an inconvenient bout of amnesia during just the weekend his philandering wife is killed. Despite some creative visual touches (thanks primarily to effective use of double exposure), the storyline plods along creakily, without generating much interest; it ultimately feels much longer than its 63 minutes. A snappy performance by J. Carroll Naish as the omnipresent detective on the case simply highlights how tepid all the other actors are: Chaney is his usually plodding, tortured self, and while Morison is lovely to look at, her performance never rises above adequate (though her talents are head-and-shoulders above those of Ames, who is mercifully only on screen for a couple of short scenes before her death).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • J. Carrol Naish as Inspector Gregg
  • Creative visual touches

  • The inspired final flashback scene

Must See?
No; this one is only must-see for Inner Sanctum fans.


One thought on “Calling Dr. Death (1943)

  1. First viewing. Not a must.

    Not only “tepid” but often downright silly. I don’t think anyone in the cast fares that well, really. This thing does feel long – and padded. It feels just like an old tv series episode.

    Skip it.

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