Dr. Clitterhouse is fascinated with the working of the criminal mind. His interest is so deep that he finds the best way to observe criminals in action is to become one himself.
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Early in his career, Bogart played in a lot of supporting roles with then big stars Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney. While still one of the main characters in each picture, he was however not the hero and at times mostly the villain. The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, a terrible name for a movie, has a strange plot that defies plausibility and really comes off silly and inane dragging two iconic actors back into the underbelly of crime, but with a more light hearted approach.
The distinguished Dr. Clitterhouse (Robinson) has an interest in gangsters, specifically their psychology. How they work, what motivates them, their response to crime, to violence, and any other task associated with being a gangster. So, to learn more about criminals, he works his way into a prominent gang after stealing jewelry and selling it to the head female boss, Jo Keller (Trevor).
Jo becomes impressed with the doctor, now nicknamed the Professor by Joís crew, and decides to use him as another partner in her crime organization. But that doesnít sit well with Rocks (Bogart), another member, as the Professor starts to rise in the rankings of the crew.
At this time, Bogart, Robinson and Cagney were well known for playing gangsters, an image they tried to break away from. Bogartís performance is not challenging, you can see a hint of distain for the character in just about every scene Bogart is in. Even though Robinson, who does best distinguished ascent, appears to have fun with the Professor character and does a nice job with his comedic timing. The whole movie is nonsensical, with an ending that is downright absurd.
The scenes with Robinson and Bogart are not compelling, and if anything, thatís a sign of a bad movie. While Robinson enjoys the role, Bogartís dislike comes through creating an uneven balance between the two veteran actors. The chemistry is missing, making the film less captivating or even entertaining.
Thereís no surprise that gangster movies were popular in the 30ís and 40ís, however, it was obvious that the studios were milking the genre for everything its worth. The originality is absent, the witty dialogue gone, and the sanity of the film is completely missing. The paycheck must have been sizeable to convince Bogart and Robinson to take their parts, but Hollywood was different at the time because in large part of the studio systems which forced actors to take certain roles with or without their consent. Thatís not to say Bogart was a victim of that, but the system may have played a part.
The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse is not one the better movies for the revered actors. It has some funny moments, but those are spread thin and not enough to provide any entertainment. If youíre looking for a great quality film that stars Bogart and Robinson, watch Key Largo, or any of the other four films that the duo did together. Anything other than The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse.