Juggernaut (1936)

vt The Demon Doctor

UK / 67 minutes / bw / J.H., Wardour, Grand National Dir: Henry Edwards Pr: Julius Hagen Scr: Cyril Campion, H. Fowler Mear, H. Fraenkel Story: Juggernaut (1928) by Alice Campbell Cine: Sydney Blythe, William Luff Cast: Boris Karloff, Joan Wyndham, Arthur Margetson, Mona Goya, Antony Ireland (i.e., Anthony Ireland), Morton Setten (i.e., Morton Selten), Mina Boucicault (i.e., Nina Boucicault).

Lack of funds forces Dr. Sartorius (Karloff) to abandon his researches in Morocco into a cure for certain forms of paralysis and take up a practice in the Côte d’Azure. There he’s approached by amoral Lady Yvonne Clifford (Goya), who offers him the £20,000 he needs to complete his researches in exchange for his taking on as patient her ailing, elderly magnate husband Sir Charles (Setten) and subtly poisoning him; she plans to spend the rest of her life with her wastrel paramour, the gambling-addicted Capt. Arthur Halliday (Ireland). But Sir Charles, no fool, changes his will to make his son Roger (Margetson) his sole trustee, disinheriting Yvonne aside from a small allowance which Roger will administer.

During an argument over this, Yvonne bites Roger’s hand; Sartorius takes advantage of the ruckus to inject Sir Charles with the lethal dose—then passes the incriminating syringe to his nurse, Eve Rowe (Wyndham), who promptly mislays it. Because of Sartorius’s evident panic over the loss, Eve, finding the syringe, has its contents analyzed by the village pharmacist. Meanwhile Sartorius and Yvonne are planning to do away with Roger so as to get their hands on the inheritance . . .

This melodrama is a very, very minor entry in the Karloff oeuvre, and his interest seems to be flagging throughout. Goya, by contrast, overacts wildly—perhaps necessarily, since otherwise we might become too pressingly aware that the character of Lady Clifford is entirely implausible. Wyndham is more convincing as the resourceful nurse although, deploying an upper-crust accent you could cut with a knife, she seems hardly the kind to have her heart set aflutter by the hearty, backslapping Roger.

He, mind you, is a sensible chap. As he sickens from his hand injury he moans to Eve: “I say, I’m frightfully thirsty. Tell Chalmers to bring up a brandy and soda, would you?”

On Amazon.com: Juggernaut and Juggernaut

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