THE MAD DOCTOR (aka A Date with Destiny) has to be the best Basil Rathbone movie I’ve never seen. The Baz playing gorgeous but insane serial wife-killer, with the amazing Martin Kosleck as his heavily implied gay lover, John Howard as Ellen Drew’s nice but boring rescuer, Tim Whelan directing and a script partially written (or possibly) by Ben Hecht! – Who wouldn’t crawl over broken glass to see this film?
So, why is it almost impossible to find?!!
I’ve looked everywhere:even Youtube (where I’m informed by Scarlett-Streeters only the depraved go to watch movies) – but it’s just not out there! and the more I can’t find it the more I wants it, my preciousss!
See…seee the gorgeousness of it all……
From TCM.com: “In the middle of a rainy night, Midbury physician Dr. Charles Downer is awakened and summoned to the home of psychologist George Sebastien to treat Sebastien’s wife. When he arrives, however, Sebastien tells Downer that his wife has already died of pneumonia. Downer returns home sadly and considers ordering an autopsy because he is sure that his patient had been recovering….
….Shortly afterward, Sebastien leaves Midbury for New York, accompanied by his servant and companion, Maurice Gretz. In New York, Sebastien revives his practice as a psychoanalyst and is called upon to treat Linda Boothe, a beautiful young woman who is severely depressed and suicidal…..
…Even though she is engaged to newspaperman Gil Sawyer, Sebastien plots with Maurice to marry Linda…..
…kill her and claim her inheritance, just as he had done with his first two wives….” —
No – no more plot, in case it spoils it for anyone lucky enough to get to see it…instead some trivia and general info, and more photos…
“The working titles of this film were A Date with Destiny and Destiny. Although screen credits and the Paramount Produced Properties listing indicate that the film is based on a screenplay by Howard J. Green, early drafts of the screenplay, titled The Monster and re-titled Destiny, were written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The contributions of Hecht and MacArthur to the final screenplay have not been confirmed… —TCM.com:
“I enjoyed working on Mad Doctor more than anything else in my career because of Basil Rathbone. He was a wonderful man . . . very precise . . . he rehearsed everything until it was perfect. Between scenes, we would walk around the Paramount lot and go over our lines . . . I loved that man.” Martin Kosleck“
“…Perhaps it is the pulp fiction title, but The Mad Doctor has been lumped in with Universal’s latter-day monster rallies and gone down in history as something of a B-movie. Nothing could be further from the truth, alas. The appearance alone of Basil Rathbone in one of his most deliciously naughty roles — complete with plenty of homoerotic undercurrents — ought to persuade even the most skeptic viewer that this is no mere shock fest. Long in gestation, The Mad Doctor was originally titled “A Date With Destiny,” a much more appropriate title since that is exactly what is in store for lissome Ellen Drew, and was at one point or another planned as a vehicle for John Barrymore, and, believe it or not, Noel Coward…” AllMovie.com
In all seriousness it sounds as though – quite typically for Rathbone’s career – what should have been a success failed to be so. THE MAD DOCTOR sounds like it might have been quite a daring psychological study, but luck dictated otherwise, and it got shunted off into the sidings as a bit of B-movie horror. Probably didn’t help that the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther evidently didn’t get it. Though the Hollywood Reporter apparently described the film as “one of the top efforts of its type” and described Rathbone’s performance as “stunning”…
I have to see this film.
Is there anyone out there who has a copy? Honestly, I’ll clean your toilet every day for a year if you can point me to where this little beauty can be found.
UPDATE, 2013 – I have a copy! No need to tell me how to find one any more!
Also check out The Mad Doctor at BasilRathbone.net – the ultimate fansite for the Baz!