For Reel

Young Dr. Kildare (1938)
September 8, 2014, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Harold S. Bucquet
3 Stars
Young Dr. KildareHoping to capitalize on the success of the series of Andy Hardy pictures, MGM acquired the rights to author Max Brand’s character of a principled intern at a New York City hospital: Dr. James Kildare. The terrific Lew Ayres would star as Kildare in nine pictures, with a spin-off series following his mentor Dr. Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore) following in the wake of his departure from the role. Ayres was at his best as a snarky, intellectual outsider–his depressive alcoholic role in Holiday is among his most memorable characters–and although Kildare is rather plain with little more to distinguish him than his idealism, his very nobility grounds him as a high-minded outcast in the political world of a big city hospital. Perhaps his best scenes occur near the very beginning of the picture when he returns home to the country to find that his family wishes for him to settle down there. Knowing he wants more than what country life can offer him but not wanting to break his parent’s hearts, Ayres conveys Kildare’s concurrent thankfulness and discomfort. Barrymore’s Gillespie is the archetypical unpleasant veteran who, in the end, is revealed to have been especially harsh on the newcomer as a way of training him to be his apprentice. The two have a good chemistry, but other than that Young Dr. Kildare is ultimately a rather ordinary start to the prolific series.

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