If only it had ended 2 minutes sooner!
Movie Lover: Dr. Maniac
-- July, 11, 2004
This Monogram effort showed a lot of promise and could easily have become a psychological classic but it was tripped up. I will get into that later.
Phillip Bennett (Edward Norris) is the son of a prominent banker, a socialite and a medical school dropout but still he has a pretty good life. One night all this changes in an instant when his car crashes and he dies instantly from shock. A doctor (Frederick Burton) who has been experimenting with reviving the hearts of dead animals wants to try to bring Philip back. A professor (Hugh Sothern) argues "Let the dead stay dead." but Phil's rich dad begs the doctor to revive him. The experiment is performed and Phillip revives at the stroke of midnight; the very same time that a sociopathic killer is executed in the electric chair.
Phil recovers but he seems to have amnesia, recalling none of his former life. Meanwhile he seems to remember all of the dead gangsters habits, even to going to the slum neighbourhood and taking over the dead man's gang! The professor voices the belief that the dead gangsters soul has somehow been transferred to Phillip. A local detective (Addison Richards) could not care less about Phillip's soul. Innocent persons are being murdered and a crime wave is sweeping the city and must be stopped!
Recognisable faces in this film include Ernie Adams as "Gimpy" and stuntman Kenne Duncan as a gunman. Norris is quite effectoive and believable as the two-faced man. Marlo Dwyer and Eleanor Lawson are the women in his life; Ms. Dwyer is the "bad" girl and Ms. Lawson is the "good" one. There is a lot of action, drama and plenty of shootouts to keep a viewer's attention.
Now back to that little shortcoming I mentioned earlier. Happy endings were the rule of the day when this picture was made and even Monogram, an independant studio, fell victim to that standard. After so much mayhem and killing they fall back on a hackneyed plot twist that goes back to the very origins of the movies themselves. Oh, you will see what I mean . . .if you haven't guessed it already. If you use your imagination while watching the end of this movie you might be able to hear the 1940's audience groaning in disbelief!
Monogram made a lot of movies in the 40's that are remembered and loved to-day. This movie could have been one of them. Alas, it just was not meant to be.