Tag Archives: David Snell

Captain Kidd’s Treasure (1938, Leslie Fenton)

Captain Kidd’s Treasure runs into a problem I’m unfamiliar with for a docudrama. Its fictive license posits itself as fact, which makes entire short puzzling.

There’s a brief recount of Captain Kidd, his execution and his treasure island. I think I’ve heard the name before, but I didn’t know the Kidd story. These MGM “Historical Mysteries” are almost more interesting as historical items–as indicators of what was popular in the the late thirties.

Anyway, there’s this modern day expedition headed out with what the short shows to be Kidd’s actual map. Only the expedition is just a narrative device to show the differing opinions of Kidd’s culpability. It’s very confusing.

Fenton’s a limp action director, but he’s not terrible. His narration has a little more energy.

The acting’s weak, especially Stanley Andrews as Kidd. Ian Wolfe is okay though.

Treasure did get me curious about Kidd, which is something….

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Leslie Fenton; written by Herman Boxer; director of photography, Robert Pittack; music by David Snell; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Stanley Andrews (Capt. William Kidd), Charles Irwin (First Mate Palmer), Wade Boteler (Captain of Modern-Day Expedition), Edward LeSaint (Member of Modern-Day Expedition) and Ian Wolfe (Skeptical Member of Modern-Day Expedition). Narrated by Leslie Fenton.


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Young Dr. Kildare (1938, Harold S. Bucquet)

Young Dr. Kildare is very hard to watch. Not because it’s bad or because it’s insanely rare, but because Elmo Veron is one of the worst editors I’ve ever seen on a Hollywood film. Some of the fault–for shooting too many medium-long shots–belongs to director Bucquet, Veron’s incompetent eyes and ears for film cutting makes Kildare a constant intrusion. It’s like someone clanks a hammer repeatedly against a pan whenever the film cuts to a one-shot. It’s like Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music.” It’s unacceptable. There’s no reason a film should have such bad editing.

Otherwise, Kildare’s a not quite genial (the case gets solved because hospital intern Lew Ayres lets paramedic Nat Pendleton convince him they need to beat men with a wrench) medical drama. Well, not exactly… there’s a case, a few of them even, but it’s mostly a setup for the subsequent series. MGM must have had some idea there’d be more, since the movie stops instead of concludes. But back to the lack of geniality… Ayres goes so far as to cover for Pendleton’s incompetence, an incompetence directly responsible for a patient’s death. And then they’re friends. So, while Ayres is defending patient confidentiality, he’s also just covered up a case of manslaughter. The movie never discusses it in those terms and wipes the whole thing under the carpet, but it does have a particular subversive air about it… the big secret can’t be spoken because of the Code and such.

Ayres is okay as Kildare… his performance is, not joking, severely hampered by lots of his lines coming in those terrible one-shots. Lionel Barrymore is awesome (playing a wheelchair bound “House M.D.”) and Pendleton is good. Jo Ann Sayers is pretty good as the case, but Ayres’s romantic interest, Lynne Carver, has no chemistry with him. Their scenes together come off so bland–partially the script’s fault, but still–it’s like he’d just gotten done cutting the underwear off her doll collection.

The movie works pretty well, utilizing Pendleton perfectly for the needed humor (as it becomes clear, both to Ayres and the audience, Barrymore isn’t being funny when he’s being funny).

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Harold S. Bucquet; screenplay by Harry Ruskin and Willis Goldbeck, based on a story by Max Brand; director of photography, John F. Seitz; edited by Elmo Veron; music by David Snell; produced by Lou L. Ostrow; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Lionel Barrymore (Dr. Gillespie), Lew Ayres (Dr. James Kildare), Lynne Carver (Alice Raymond), Nat Pendleton (Joe Wayman), Jo Ann Sayers (Barbara Chanler), Samuel S. Hinds (Dr. Stephen Kildare), Emma Dunn (Mrs. Martha Kildare), Walter Kingsford (Dr. P. Walter Carew), Truman Bradley (Jack Hamilton), Monty Woolley (Dr. Lane-Porteus), Pierre Watkin (Mr. Robert Chanler) and Nella Walker (Mrs. Chanler).


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