A VD scare film directed by Edgar Ulmer
Movie Lover: Dr. Maniac
-- August, 24, 2004
This stands out among sleaze films because it had a first rate director, Edgar Ulmer who had worked in Germany with people like Fritz Lang and Paul Wegener and who would go on to do the film noir classic DETOUR (1946).
Dan Bradley (Lyman Williams) is an ex-ship captain who takes a desk job with his dad's steamship company. This means he can marry his sweetie Joan (Diane Sinclair). First though he gets taken out for one last party at the home of his pal Nat (Murray Kinnell). After Nat gets plastered and passes out Don puts the moves on Nat's girl Elsie. Bad idea for several reasons!
After 2 months of wedded happiness with Joan who should re-enter Don's life but Elsie. No she does not want to blackmail him, this isn't that type of picture. She warns him of the "sickness" she got from Nat and passed on to Don; which means he has given it to Joan!
Now it turns out Don's best friend Bill (Jason Robards Sr.) is a doctor and here is where the "educational" part of the plot comes in. We get several truly scary scenes of people in the various stages of syphilis. One man got the disease "from a kiss", a woman passed the disease on to all 7 of her children making them all blind, crippled or insane. Now this movie comes from 1933 and penicillin was not widely used to combat VD until 1948 so Bill tells Don and Joan their cure will take 2 years.
Be ready for an emotional ending that comes close to being tragic, in fact, had Ulmer made this film in Germany I am sure it would have had a sad ending but instead at the last minute we end on a note of hope that for Don and joan there is hope for the future.
Edgar Ulmer was certainly a talented director but he nevered seemed to be able to escape the B movie genre. He finished his career with things like DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL and BEYOND THE TIME BARRIER.