Monday, June 27, 2022

Dr. Monica

It's been a while since I've posted to the blog because, as I mentioned in my previous post, life has been busy and a bit of a mess in the past month and a half. But I noticed that TCM is running a movie that I recorded during Kay Francis' turn as Star of the Month at the beginning of the year, and one that I don't think is on DVD: Dr. Monica, tomorrow at 10:00 AM.

Kay plays the titular Dr. Monica, an obstetrician married to John (Warren William) who is unable to have a baby of her own. She doesn't know it yet, but John has been stepping out on her with one of her two best friends, pilot Mary (Jean Muir). The other best friend, Anna (Verree Teasdale), seems to serve the purpose somebody like Eve Arden would serve in 1940s movies, of the good friend who has a level head, although unsurprisingly Teasdale isn't nearly as funny as Arden.

Unfortunately, Mary gets knocked up, which presents a problem as she's not married. She even thinks about getting an abortion, although that scene is cut since the movie was released about a week before the Production Code went in to full effect. But Mary makes it quite clear that she doesn't want the baby. Worse, in her delirium during labor, she tries to get in touch with John, who knows nothing about the baby, having broken off the relationship with Mary before she could tell him. Monica overhears this, and comes to the bizarre conclusion that she's not just going to leave John (understandable), but make certain he marries Mary so the baby won't be a bastard (well, they couldn't use that word.

But, if you think Monica's motivations are a mess, just wait until the end of the movie when you discover Mary's solution to the conflict! That's one of the two problems that Dr. Monica has: a script that's screwed up, and does no favors to any of the four stars (William being in a surprisingly small role here when you consider his importance to the story). But it's the other flaw that probably accounts for the script problems. It seems fairly obvious that the movie was cut at Joe Breen's insistence; the suriving print runs about 52 to 53 minutes while IMDb says that contemporary sources in 1934 originally advertised a 65-minute movie that never got released in that form. I wouldn't be surprised if Warner Bros.' original intentions for the mil at least made somewhat more sense.

However, for all the problems that Dr. Monica has, it's certainly an interesting mess. And at under an hour, you haven't wasted too much of your time, especially if you know going in that it's a mess.