UNDERCOVER DOCTOR. Paramount Pictures, 1939. Lloyd Nolan, Janice Logan, J. Carrol Naish, Heather Angel, Broderick Crawford, John Eldredge, Raymond Hatton, Paul Fix, Richard Denning. One of four short films made in 1939-40 based on the book Persons in Hiding), by J. Edgar Hoover. Director: Louis King.


   Lloyd Nolan gets top billing, although at least fifteen minutes have gone by before he shows up on the screen. (It pays to have a good agent.)

   It’s J. Carroll Naish as the titular doctor instead who gets most of the screen time, he along with semi-brutish Broderick Crawford, whom I’ve never seen so young, as Public Enemy #1, Eddie Krator, a role he was (as they say) born to play.

   You might get the idea from the title that Dr. Bartley Morgan (Naish) is working undercover for the FBI, for whom Nolan is of their top agents, but if so, you would be wrong. The title of this film really ought to be Underworld Doctor, since Morgan, in a moment of weakness (and the love of money) works for Krator and not against him.


   He’s a high society kind of guy, or so are his aspirations. Loving him in vain is his nurse and devoted assistant (and keeper, if truth be known), played by Janice Logan, whom you may also have seen in Dr. Cyclops (1940) as Dr. Mary Robinson. If you missed that one, you probably missed her career, as she was in only six feature films in all. At times and at the right angles, she reminded me of a slightly prettier Veda Ann Borg.

   In any case, if Dr. Morgan is content to ignore the woman who works for him, aiming for a society marriage instead, it is cool Lloyd Nolan who was never loath to pass up a chance like this. Dumping Krator when his usefulness is up, Morgan suddenly finds himself short of funds and has to do one more job for his former mentor. Which is when the bottom falls out of his life, which I hope does not reveal anything I should not. (I do not believe so.)

   The movie’s a solid piece of work all the way through, even though you will see all of the twists coming a mile away. You will also see lots of lots of familiar faces. I’ve listed some of them that I could put a name to, but there are many others that I couldn’t, and so I didn’t.