THE MAD DOCTOR OF MARKET STREET. Universal, 1942. Lionel Atwill, Una Merkel, Claire Dodd, Nat Pendleton, Richard Davies, Noble Johnson, Ray Mala. Produced by Paul Malvern. Written by Al Martin. Directed by Joseph H. Lewis.

   The good news is that this predestined 2nd-feature was done by people who knew their way around cheap movies. Producer Paul Malvern started out at Monogram with Duke Wayne’s Lone Star series, and went on to memorable kitsch like House of Dracula (far from the best in the series, but showing fine use of stock footage and contract players).

   Writer Al Martin’s resumé is less distinguished, but director Joseph H. Lewis (who would go on to Gun Crazy and beyond) had lavished bizarre camera angles and punchy editing on low-budget movies for half a decade by the time this trifle fell onto his plate.

   And then there’s the cast: Lionel Atwill at his supercilious best; Una Merkel ditzy as ever; Nat Pendleton clueless as always, and Noble Johnson playing a nasty Native Chief as one to the manner born. The only downside is that the film itself isn’t much good.

   That is to say, I enjoyed it, and you might too, but there are definitely some Quality Control issues here. For one thing, there’s no Monster in this purported Horror Film, and that’s always a bit of a let-down for those of us who used to stay up late watching “Shock Theater” or the local equivalent thereof – indeed it was not until my later years, with mature critical sensibilities, that I learned to appreciate this work on its own terms, such as they are.

   For another thing, Merkel and Pendleton are fine comedy performers, but they don’t have a funny line between them. And finally, the story tends to meander a bit, starting with a bit of Mad Doctoring in Frisco, then the hunt for a fugitive killer aboard a luxury liner, a little dab of shipwreck, and then some testy diplomacy with Island Natives who evince a taste for human sacrifice.

   Well. it certainly moves around a lot, and like I say, Mad Doctor of Market Street carries this nonsense with a certain amount of style. There’s a particularly fine second or two toward the end, when Lewis’ camera pans in on Atwill’s terrified expression as he realizes the jig is up, a perfect confluence of fine acting and skillful direction. And if it seems wasted on a dumb picture like this, well, like I say: It’s still fun.