Internes Can't Take Money (1937)

Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Lloyd Nolan, Stanley Ridges,
Internes Can't Take Money is a movie starring Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, and Lloyd Nolan. In his first film, young Dr. Kildare helps a female ex-con find her child.
  • 6.9 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Rian James, Theodore Reeves, Max Brand, Writer:
  • Alfred Santell, Director:
  • Benjamin Glazer, Producer:

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8 / 10

B plot + A production = Dr. Kildare with atmosphere

An exceptionally flavorful rendering of the Depression atmosphere: a world of the poor laboring in sweatshop jobs, petty hoods hanging out in smoky bars, backroom bookie joints, pushcart vendors and bus terminals and orphanages. While the plot is no more ambitious than the typical B movie of the time, the high production values, name cast, and imaginative direction from Alfred Santell all boost the quality.

At the center of the plot, Barbara Stanwyck spends much of the film in desperation mode, exhausted from searching for her lost child, beaten down by two years in jail, forced to hire stool pigeons, forced to stay alert.

Joel McCrea makes the ideal American hero for the 30's: not only a doctor, but tall, blond, honest, sincere, manly, and progressive. At one point, he has to perform an operation on a bar room table, improvising with violin strings, an ice pick, and a bottle of rum! But this is not MGM's Dr. Kildare. He has no warm relationship with a kindly old mentor; instead, the chief doctor is an authority figure upholding the rules, dismissing Lee Bowman for unauthorized experimentation. The script also pumps up sympathy for interns as underpaid workers who get only $10 a month.

As a gangster, the always fascinating Stanley Ridges conveys the calm of a man secure in his power, whose eye movements size up his adversaries and whose silences reveal more menace than mere words. Watch the sexual innuendo he finds in his "I didn't always like popcorn" speech.

Santell uses extreme close-ups and moves the camera often, aided by gleaming lighting from Theodore Sparkuhl, plus some knock-out sets, including a sparkling white Art Deco clinic and an elaborately detailed New York Irish bar. Watch how economically Santell works to show the awakening of mutual attraction between Stanwyck and McCrea in their first scene together. Also lifting the picture out of its formula origins is the headlong pace Santell maintains to the climax, an urgency lost in the blander MGM series.

7 / 10

James Kildare, MD

The first appearance of young James Kildare, MD was in this Paramount feature that starred Joel McCrea as the young Intern at Blair General Hospital. Come to think of it, I don't recall if the name of the hospital is given in the film.

Nor will you find any of the other regulars from the Kildare/Gillespie series from MGM. When Paramount saw no possibilities in a series of films, they didn't do film series with the exception of Hopalong Cassidy, MGM picked it up.

Lew Ayres who was Kildare over at MGM was a bright idealistic getting his minting over at Blair General Hospital under the tutelage of gruff but kindly Lionel Barrymore. McCrea is a more stern type of Kildare, the most straight arrow of straight arrows. In fact Joel McCrea was quoted as saying he never felt comfortable being anything other than the straight arrow hero. But he was good in those parts.

His patients include Barbara Stanwyck, a woman from the wrong side of the tracks who will do anything to get back the child she lost custody of and Lloyd Nolan who he patches up after a brawl in the bar they both frequent. Both of their stories intertwine and you see the film to learn how.

In what was essentially a B programmer Paramount gave a lot of good production values to this film. I guess it was befitting the stars McCrea and Stanwyck who were definitely on their way up.

I do sort of miss the Blair General Hospital regulars, but McCrea does right by the character of James Kildare, MD.

8 / 10

Doctor Kildare's Criminal Case

INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY (Paramount, 1937), directed by Alfred Santell, is a medical drama based on the story by Max Brand, creator of the Doctor Kildare character. It also is the movie that introduces Doctor Kildare to the screen. Though many film historians believe Lew Ayres to be the original Doctor Kildare of the movies, it is an unknown fact that this first Kildare of the screen was actually played by Joel McCrea. With no Doctor Gillespie (Lionel Barrymore in the Ayres series) as his supervisor and mentor, nor setting at Blair General Hospital as depicted in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer series (1938-1942), this introduction to the noteworthy character is less hospital melodrama combining sentimentality and crime drama using two separate stories for two basic characters.

Following camera tracking to various medical rooms where young interns in clinics are taking care of patients and their needs, Jimmie Kildare (Joel McCrea) is introduced as a young interne at Mounview General Hospital making $10 a month treating a second degree burn on left forearm wrist of Janice Haley (Barbara Stanwyck), who later faints of malnutrition. Later that evening, Doctor Howard J. Pearson (Pierre Watkin), hospital superintendent, gathers his staff together for the dismissal of Interne Weeks (Lee Bowman), a friend of Kildare's, for experimental liver operation on a patient who has died. While comforting Weeks at the nearby bar, Janice enters to meet with Dan Innes (Stanley Ridges), a gangster. It is revealed that Janice is a widow of Jim Haley, bank robber who had taken her 11 month baby and hidden her someplace. Having served a two year prison term for not revealing information about her husband's criminal activities, Janice, now paroled, comes to the racketeer hoping for information regarding the whereabouts of her now three-year-old daughter. Innes agrees to help her for $1,000, which she does not have. In the meantime, Kildare encounters Hanlon (Lloyd Nolan), a racketeer who enters the bar only to keel over due to severe knife wound. Kildare secretly takes the injured gangster to the back room of the bar and off the record does an immediate operation to save his life. Later, Kildare receives an envelope with $1,000 cash from bartender known as "One Eyed" Jeff (Irving Bacon). When Janice learns Kildare's money she desperately needs to find her child, her attempt to steal the envelope fails. Kildare gives back the money to Hanlon only because the "internes can't take money." Coming to terms with hospital rules, Hanlon agrees to assist Kildare with any favors needed. When Kildare learns of Janice's history, he comes to Hanlon for assistance, at the risk of losing his own medical career if caught. Also in the cast are: Barry Macollum (Stooley Martin); Charles Lane (Grote, the gambler who must earn the money lost to Innes by acting as his butler); Lillian Harmer (Mrs. Mooney, the Landlady); Fay Holden (Mother Theresa) and Gaylord Pendleton (Interne Jones).

Being the only "Doctor Kildare" movie produced by Paramount and featuring Joel McCrea, this is a good introduction to the Max Brand character. It also marks the third of six screen collaborations of Stanwyck and McCrea, with INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY being one of their most underrated. Though Kildare is still the central character, the premise focuses more on the Stanwyck character, giving a standout performance and given extreme facial close-ups with realistic teary-eyedbuildup scenes that work with conviction. Stanwyck is most believable in her role of a desperate mother going through extremes searching for her infant child. Heartfelt moments include Stanwyck overlooking little sad looking three-year-old girls in orphanage, hoping one of them would be her very own daughter. Lloyd Nolan and Stanley Ridges give commendable performances as mobsters, with Nolan being more sympathetic through his tough guy image.

Unseen on commercial television since the late 1970s (notably WPIX, Channel 11 in New York City prior to 1973, and some showings on New Jersey's WTVG, Channel 68 (1976-1978), INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY, which has, to date, never been shown in cable TV, did become available in 1995 on video cassette and DVD in 2013. Regardless of crime melodrama, sentiment and medical issues, INTERNES CAN'T TAKE MONEY is worthy screen 77 minute , thanks to its fine casting of actors and direction that rise above average script material. (***)

7 / 10

Stanwyck and McCrae Make "Internes" Worth Watching

A wildly improbable drama, the misspelled "Internes Can't Take Money" was the first in the "Dr.Kildare" movie series, which was subsequently recast with Lew Ayres in the title role and continued at the MGM studio, following this initial Paramount effort. Concocted by writer Max Brand, the story involves an honest young intern at a large hospital, who crosses paths with a widowed ex-con seeking to locate her three-year-old daughter, who was abducted by her deceased bank-robber husband. The recipe is an old one; toss in a couple of shady characters and a gangster with a heart of gold, who is embroiled in illegal betting, add a tolerant landlady and a kindly bartender, sprinkle with nuns, mix with unexpected twists, and bake until overdone.

Despite an uninspired title and a routine script, director Alfred Santell maintains a steady pace that will distract viewers from the at-times laughable plot turns that lead to a teary fade-out, provoked either by laughter or sentiment. Beyond the script, the film's technical aspects are quite good, especially the black and white cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl, who often dramatically captures Stanwyck garbed in deep black, contrasting with McCrae, dressed in his intern's whites.

Barbara Stanwyck plays the widow, Janet Haley, and the actress, at her sudsy distraught-mother best, is convincing in an unconvincing role. Joel McCrae is the original Dr. Kildare, a straight-arrow intern, poorly paid and burdened by work and rules, who seeks solace at a nearby bar, where his life takes a sudden turn. Stanwyck and McCrae, in their third co-starring film, work well together, and Stanwyck seems genuinely taken with McCrae during their first scene together. Attesting to what makes a film star a star, Stanwyck and McCrae add dimension and interest to otherwise cardboard characters in credibility-stretching situations. In addition to the two stars, the capable cast also includes Lloyd Nolan, Stanley Ridges, and Charles Lane. However, if not for the professionalism and charisma of the leads and supporting players, "Internes Can't Take Money" would be 80 minutes of laughable coincidences and plot turns, memorable only as the first in the Dr. Kildare movie series.

7 / 10

Noir Prototype?

Probably not, but it has a certain cachet to it that is reminiscent of the genre that was yet to come. Good folk and gangsters, an unsuspecting someone caught in a web of dishonesty and murder, and all with the shadows and photographic effects normally associated with film noir. It is also an early Dr. Kildare film with Joel McCrea as the good doctor.

Nutshell: Kildare comes across Barbara Stanwyck, who is destitute and desperate. She is looking for her lost child and she is broke and just released from prison, apparently framed for aiding and abetting her husband. Kildare tries to help, with the aid of a gangster (Lloyd Nolan) on whom he has done emergency surgery (in the back of a barroom!) and who now feels he owes Kildare a favor.

The cast is excellent, headed by Stanwyck who never gives a bad performance. McCrea is his usual understated self and Stanley Ridges is very effective as a seedy, slimy villain. This is a very underrated film and was shown at Capitolfest, Rome, NY, 8/19.

******** 8/10 - Website no longer prints my star rating.