In a laboratory on Market Street Dr. Ralph Benson is performing an experiment on a man. He is attempting to bring him back to life. The experiment fails. As the police are knocking down his front door Benson is climbing out the back window.
To get away from the police he boards a ship sailing for New Zealand. On board is a detective who believes Benson is among the passengers but he is not sure which one is the doctor. While discussing his assignment with the captain he is overheard by Benson.
After the captain leaves Benson hits the detective over the head and tosses him overboard. He is seen by another man but only from a distance. Benson manages to get away. The captain stops the ship but the detective is never found. The passengers know that the Mad Doctor of Market Street is on board but no one knows who he is.
A fire erupts and the ship starts to sink. The passengers head for the lifeboats. Benson grabs his medical box and gets in one of the lifeboats. In the boat with him are Patricia Wentworth (Claire Dodd), her aunt Margaret Wentworth (Una Merkel), a prize fighter named Red Hogan (Nat Pendleton), Ship’s Officer Dwight (John Eldridge) and a ship’s steward named Jim (Richard Davies).
The lifeboat lands on an island occupied by a small tribe of natives. Chief Elan’s (Noble Johnson) wife Tanao (Rosina Gali) is ill. The tribe believes that white men bring evil and that the chief’s wife will die. The chief orders that the white people be brought to him. His wife dies so the chief orders that the white people be killed.
Benson tells the chief that he can bring his wife back to life. Benson checks her vital signs and realizes she really isn’t dead. He gives the woman adrenaline and she recovers. The chief thinks that Benson is the god of life. Now not only mad but power hungry Benson plans on continuing with his experiments by killing and bringing back to life anyone he pleases.
“The Mad Doctor of Market Street” was released in 1942 and was directed by Joseph H. Lewis. It is a horror style movie and is rather short at only an hour long. It is one of Universal’s low budget films. The title of the film sounds good but only the first few minutes actually takes place on Market Street.
The movie is average. Perhaps even a little above average. All in all I was entertained. There was the basic mad doctor formula and the standard characters for the rest of the cast, the coward, two comic reliefs and the budding loving couple but there were a thousand other movies like that done in the forties and fifties. That’s how movies were done for the most part.
Atwill does his usual good job as mad scientist with power. He carries the film yes, but that’s fine. It’s basically his vehicle anyway and it’s always nice to see a good mad scientist performance although this one is more devious than insane. It adds a little extra dimension to his performance. He’s not so much a mad doctor as he is an opportunist. I’m not even sure he ever really had a formula for bringing back the dead.
Another note worthy actor is Noble Johnson as the chief. Noble did many movies playing Native Americans and Tribal Natives. He also produced a couple shorts concerning the Black experience. He was a co-founder with his brother George Johnson of the “Lincoln Motion Picture Co.”, Johnson was one of the first successful African-American film producers. Noble was good friends with Lon Chaney. They attended the same school.