The Mad Doctor (1941 film)

The Mad Doctor is a 1941 American black-and-white crime thriller film from Paramount Pictures, produced by George M. Arthur, directed by Tim Whelan, and starring Basil Rathbone as a physician whose successive wealthy wives die. Ellen Drew plays his latest bride.[1] John Howard plays her ex-fiance, who grows increasingly suspicious of her new husband.

The Mad Doctor
Directed byTim Whelan
Produced byGeorge M. Arthur
Written byHoward J. Green
Ben Hecht (uncredited)
Charles MacArthur (uncredited)
StarringBasil Rathbone
Ellen Drew
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyTed Tetzlaff
Edited byArchie Marshek
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • February 14, 1941 (1941-02-14)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States


A sophisticated but murderous physician (Basil Rathbone) woos, weds, and murders several of his wealthy women patients for their fortunes. The women appear to have died prematurely, with their above-suspicion doctor husband diagnosing their deaths as coming as a result of disease. The doctor’s loyal male assistant (Martin Kosleck) tampers with the victims buried bodies in order to hide the incriminating evidence. The ex-fiance of the doctor's latest bride (Ellen Drew) is able to save her from suffering the same fate of her predecessors, while also informing the authorities of just how the women died. With the police coming for him, the doctor has no recourse but suicide, in the form of a fatal plunge from a skyscraper.



The Mad Doctor was in production from January 22 until mid-March 1940, and was released February 14, 1941. Paramount Pictures credits Howard J. Green for the screenplay, but early drafts titled The Monster and Destiny were written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. Before he accepted a role in the film, Basil Rathbone required changes to the script.[1]


The Hollywood Reporter called the film "one of the top efforts of its type", which it attributed to the "beautifully imaginative direction of Tim Whelan and the stunning performance of Basil Rathbone".[1]


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