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Film / Crime Doctor

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Crime Doctor (1943) is a crime film adapted from the radio series of the same name. The film stars Warner Baxter as a man with amnesia determined to remember his past. The film was released by Columbia Pictures.

Nine sequels followed, all starring Baxter. These later movies were somewhat more conventional mysteries than the original film. Baxter finished his career with the series, which was relatively easy work for him having suffered a nervous breakdown and severe arthritis. He died two years after the final "Crime Doctor" movie.

Amnesia victim, Robert Ordway, becomes the country's leading criminal psychologist. When confronted by mysterious figures from his unknown past, he becomes obsessed with learning about his past. Eventually, his memories return and he learns that in his past life, he had been a criminal mastermind.


Followed by The Crime Doctor's Strangest Case (1943).

Crime Doctor contains examples of:

  • Carload of Cool Kids: When Morgan is tossed out of the car and Left for Dead, his life is saved by a stereotypical group of college kids in a convertible jalopy who spot him and take him to hospital.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Joe and Nick just happen to end up in the same nightclub as Robert and Grace, and recognise Robert as Phil Morgan. Emilio's presence is justified as he has been tailing Robert. However, this event bring all three members of the gang currently at large back together.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Used to portray Ordway's progress through medical school.
  • Identity Amnesia: Morgan comes out of his coma with no memory of who he is. Over the next ten years, he forges a completely new identity as 'Robert Ordway'.
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  • Left for Dead: Emilio slams Phil Morgan over the head and throws him out of a moving car, leaving him for dead on the side of the road.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: When Phil Morgan arrives at the hospital in a coma, he is a 'John Doe'. The nurses start calling him 'Mr. Ordway' as he is in the Ordway Room. He later adopts it for himself as he is used to it.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The crooks are looking for a valise containing $200,000 that Morgan took when he doublecrossed them.
  • Not Quite Dead: Morgan is Left for Dead on the side of the road by his gang. A group of college kids find him and discover he is still alive, but only just.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Wheeler is attempting to beak out of prison so he can reenlist in the army. Ordway helps him to understand why this is never going to happen, and explains what he can do to aid the cause from inside.
  • Red Right Hand: Emilio's right hand is twisted into a claw, which can be seen when opens the car door to throw Morgan out.
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation
  • Spinning Paper: Used to fill in the details of what happens between the capture of the gang and Robert's trial.
  • That Man Is Dead: During his trial, Robert argues that there are essentially two men on trial: a guilty one (Phil Morgan, the man he used to be), and an innocent one (Robert Ordway, the man he has become). When the judge suspends his sentence and calls him Mr. Morgan, Grace corrects him by saying "It's Dr. Robert Ordway".


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