Society Doctor (1935) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Thu, July 30, 2015 01:30 PM est. Not closed captioned. This is a rare chance to see one of the early movies Robert Taylor made before he was a star. It’s probably also the movie that won him his role in Magnificent Obsession, that made him rise to the top.
It would take another 30 years before we would see another doctor like Chester Morris plays in Society Doctor and that would be on the small screen instead of the big one. Vincent Edwards might have seen what Chester Morris did in this film as the talented, but tactless surgeon and Morris could well have been his model for Ben Casey.
Society Doctor is the story of a pair of doctors in a large hospital, one like Morris very dedicated to his profession and the other being the up and coming Robert Taylor who has the talent, but wants to enjoy life as well. Both are courting Virginia Bruce who looks ravishing in her nurse’s uniform.
There are quite a few plot lines running through this story the main one involving Morris and his career choices. He’s stepping on a lot of toes at the hospital, but he’s managed to make a friend of society woman and hypochondriac Billie Burke who’s willing to bankroll him in a private practice. She wants to make him a Society Doctor.
But a few medical crises at the hospital and the possible loss of Bruce to Taylor who were seeing each other in real life at this time kind of make Morris’s choices clear.
Robert Taylor has an interesting scene in Society Doctor where he explains he’s undergone a transformation of character and now wants to be a serious doctor, as serious as his pal Morris is. The scene was well done and I’m certain that Carl Laemmle over at Universal must have seen it and thought that the young man would have been perfect casting for the lead in Magnificent Obsession which is a film entirely based on such a transformation. In any event a lot of people noticed Robert Taylor after Society Doctor, of that I’m sure.
Society Doctor holds up very well and packs a lot into its short 63 minute running time. And it seems to have influenced a few people in their careers. Review by bkoganbing from Buffalo, NY. for the imdb.