Love to drift back into pre code dramas of all types from the “Dangerous Horrors” of  THE MASK OF  FU MANCHU (1933)  to the  Warren William  pictures so this  trip into the hospital world of  EMERGENCY CALL(1933) was looked forward to. Lets step into the waiting area, grab a  hard wooden bench for  seat and enjoy.

The aspect that these films bring is that they are so delightfully subversive in the medical world following  in the  “white shoes”  of  MEN  IN WHITE (1934) with young Clark Gable to Barbara Stanwyck’s bow   in  NIGHT NURSE (1931).   These picture became a genre unto themselves as  the  DR KILDAIRE  and  DOCTOR GILLESPIE series   later  BEN CASEY plus many others.  EMERGENCY CALL (1933)  Directed by  Edward L. Cahn for  RKO studios combines  the world of romance with  crime.   I suggest that the romantic elements were to keep the women interested while the  Crime  was for the males interested  in the  two fisted  action.

Bill Boyd plays  the  role of Dr. Joe Bradley who is  about to marry into the family of the man who runs the hospital.  Bradley wants to prove  himself  yet  is rather  naive sort of fellow  even forgetting his kit on his  first  emergency call with Steve (William Gargan) . Bradley  even goes the wrong way in the building when he arrives  as he learns from Steve  in a  rather cruel by today’s standards way  that all patients at this time’ are at the  top of the stairs and weight  three hundred  pounds”.

Gargan in the  role of  Steve is good counterpoint in the action between Bill Boyd’s style as he wisecracks his way by being street wise and familiar with  the  other  lowly medical people.   The thirties   featured  snappy  dialogue between men and woman and this is not exception at Steve  set up a  romance between himself and Mabel (Wynne Gibson).    There is  fun words  exchanged when  Steve calls Mabel by the name of  Wiennie which  she dislikes and  asked the  matron not to call  her that.   The matron dresses  down  Steve who should be spending more time on his work and less with the  flirting.  Good  moment   when Steve  says ‘hey  I only want to marry the  girl”. The matron  turns to leave and you can see  a  funny smile on her face.

These light moments work well as the  story turns up the crime elements as  the hospital becomes a haven for  “ambulance chasers” and ” insurance scammers” run by the underworld in the person of (Not  FANTASY ISLAND.)  Mr Rourke (Edwin Maxwell).   The racketeers  set up accidents with there own people by tossing themselves in front  of  vehicles to collect  damages. One  such person  Sammie (George E  Stone) is recognized by  Steve  as  he is being brought in and  is   harassed by him resulting in Sammie  leaving the hospital much to the surprise of the head  administrator  who fires Steve and Mabel on the spot.    They are both  reinstated and which   when the romance between Steve and Mabel blossoms into being asked and  accepting of  a date.

Good moments in the  style of thirties romance however the  story takes  a dark turn with scandals  and cover up at the highest level of the hospital.   Punch ups, murder and  death for an unexpected  reason blend into the moralistic  ending

Bill Boyd who is actually billed ahead of all the cast had a  huge  career before this picture which was made just before his career took off ina  role he would be identified with that being the  two fisted  pure  action hero  HOPALONG CASSIDY in 1935.  Boyd would go onto play “Cassidy” in sixty six  films and short lived  Television series  Boyd does  well in the role playing it low key and  righteously naive later in the action sequences his  fists  fly against the  villains.   Elevators go up  as  the  fights  get  multi leveled even rescuing his buddy Steve who is  knifed  from behind.



Wynne Gibson  had  the  blonde precode  look about her  very similar to Miriam Hopkins  in face structure  and  body type who had many famous roles in pre code times  such as (With  William Gargan)  THE STORY OF TEMPLE DRAKE (1933)  and DR. JEKYLL AND  MR. HYDE  (1931) with Fredric March.   Wynne plays the comedy well in EMERGENCY CALL (1933)  plus shift well as the  story changes to dark overtones and tragedy.   The character of  Mabel makes a interesting  if not self  righteous  journey at the end of the  film but that  was the  style for the time. It is nice touch that the name  “Wiennie” which she does want to be called in the  film is  similar to her real first name.

Disturbing  moment in this  film occur  when Steve continually calls Mabel ‘My little  Wiennie” on the  date culminating  him  him  holding here close and slapping her three times  saying the name making Mabel cry.  Steve then says  ‘Now that”s  settled’ and the date continues without incident.  This  was  not  as  bad as  the moment  with Joan Blondell  in SMARTY(1934) which is  filled  with references of  women loving to be  hit by men even the  point of ‘Liking it”.  Two sided comment of the state of  relationships  and the way Hollywood saw the institution of marriage which had to be upheld at all times  yet allow  for  violence in the name of preservation.


The  rest of the cast rounds  out  well from the contract player  at RKO  with  villians being tough a large physically and meek when they have to be.  Paul Fix  who had large  and distinguished career in  Westerns, Crime  pictures  and  later  even as  “Dr. Piper” who was the precursor  to “Dr.McCoy” in the second original Television pilot of STAR TREK  has a brief role as Dr. Mason.

EMERGENCY CALL (1933)  paces  well into it   running time  sixty  five  minutes. It  features  early screenplay credit  for Joseph L. Mankiewicz who went on to do a  few other  good things in Hollywood.   For some  reason it is hard to  find picture which  can happen as  well all know yet it  gives  one a chance to see  Bill Boyd before he became William Boyd and began riding horse on those  dusty trails.



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