Calling Dr. Gillespie

Calling Dr. Gillespie is a 1942 drama film directed by Harold S. Bucquet, starring Lionel Barrymore, Donna Reed and Philip Dorn. This was a continuation of the series that had starred Lew Ayres as Dr. Kildare. Ayres, however, had declared conscientious objector status to World War II, and was taken off the film. Kildare's mentor, Dr. Gillespie, portrayed here and in earlier films by Barrymore, became the lead character.[2] In this first Kildare-less entry, Gillespie has a new assistant, refugee Dutch surgeon Dr. John Hunter Gerniede (Philip Dorn).

Calling Dr. Gillespie
Theatrical Film Poster
Directed byHarold S. Bucquet
Written byMax Brand
Willis Goldbeck
Kubec Glasmon
Lawrence P. Bachmann
Screenplay byWillis Goldbeck
Harry Ruskin
StarringLionel Barrymore
Philip Dorn
Donna Reed
Music byDaniele Amfitheatrof
CinematographyRay June
Edited byElmo Veron
Distributed byLoew's
Release date
July 9, 1942 (1942-07-09)
Running time
84 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$642,000[1]


Finishing school student Marcia Bradburn (Donna Reed) has good news for her boyfriend, Roy Todwell (Phil Brown). Her father has given his permission for their engagement. However, when she refuses to elope with him immediately, Roy inexplicably picks up a flagstone and kills his dog with it, then drives off.

Emma Hope (Mary Nash), the head of the school, calls her old friend, Dr. Gillespie. He invites Dr. Gerniede, a surgeon who has repeatedly requested to become a psychoanalyst, to examine Roy (without the latter's knowledge). Roy retains no memory of having killed his pet. Gerniede diagnoses dementia praecox. He and Gillespie strongly recommend treatment in a mental institution, but Roy's parents put their faith in family physician Dr. Kenwood (Charles Dingle), who insists their son is suffering from overwork at college and just needs some rest. Kenwood stands by his diagnosis, even after Roy suddenly goes berserk for no discernible reason and destroys a store toy display while out with Marcia. He does take the precaution of locking Roy in his bedroom for the night.

Roy escapes out the window and, believing Gillespie to be his enemy, sends him threatening postcards during his travels. In one city, Roy buys a car. Upon its delivery, he murders the salesman and his assistant.

When Marcia spots Roy on the school grounds, Gillespie is put under police protection, but the hospital where he works is far too large and busy for it to be effective. Roy slips in undetected, kills Dr. Kenwood's assistant and masquerades as him. A tense game of cat and mouse ensues. When Roy contacts Marcia, she is able to persuade him to give himself up. Roy, seemingly in one of his sane interludes, is brought to Dr. Gillespie's office. There, however, he pulls out a gun he had previously stashed in Gillespie's desk and states that he has to kill the doctor to become cured. Fortunately, Gerniede manages to signal hospital attendant Joe Wayman (Nat Pendleton) in the next room. Joe comes up from behind undetected and knocks the gun from Roy's hand by throwing a wrench.

Roy is sentenced to the penitentiary. When Gillespie visits Marcia, he finds she has a new beau, a soldier.



According to MGM records the film earned $419,000 in the US and Canada and $223,000 elsewhere making the studio a profit of $5,000.[1]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. "Lionel Barrymore Has Title Role in 'Calling Dr. Gillespie,' of the Dr. Kildare Series, at Loew' s Criterion Theatre". The New York Times. July 9, 1942.
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