MovieChat Forums > The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938) Discussion > So how did the good doctor get away with...

So how did the good doctor get away with this? (spoilers)

Why did the Hays, (Breen), office let him get away with murder by having him acquitted in that comical trial? Was it OK because Bogie was a bad guy?


This was before Hays the Hays code was on it's worst and writers/directors still had a bit of freedom. And did anybody notice that at least Joe too got away with all her crimes. We hear nothing more from the gang so they might very well have gotten away though it's obvious the police known all about them.

Quite a brave film. And a pretty funny one as well.

Somebody here has been drinking and I'm sad to say it ain't me - Allan Francis Doyle


I had the same thought.

Getting away with murder, even for a character with whom we sympathize, strikes me as something that they wouldn't pass after the code was being strictly enforced.

Everything I've ever read says that started in about 1934, four years before this film was released.


He didn't get away with it - think about it. He was insane - and as such his life and work were effectively ended with him remanded to the custody of the State Lunacy Commission. The jury foreman summed it up perfectly. (Paraphrasing) Someone who pleads insanity while insisting they're sane, knowing that by being sane they go to the chair is insane. It's not as though he was turned loose to walk the streets at will.

"You want to save humanity but it's people that you just can't stand". - John Lennon


This topic Reminds me of "The Man With Two Faces" from 1934, also starring Edward G. Robinson and also based on a play.
In it, his character meticulously plans and executes the murder of his sister's former husband who is relentlessly brainwashing and exploiting her. Edward's character is found out by a savvy detective in the penultimate scene. The detective expresses his personal opinion that the victim was evil and deserved killing, but still plans on carrying his duty out by bringing Eddie's character in. Apparently, in the play the detective acts by his own code of jusutice and lets him off the hook. As a previous poster already stated, as of 1934, the Hays Code was in full force so the ending was altered for the screen version. The movie ends with Robinson's character increasingly confident that he will be acquitted, but it is quite ambiguous whether he is right or deluding himself.

Anyway, the ending of "Dr. Clitterhouse" does indeed not dodge the Code, since the protagonist's practice and reputaion are ruined, he is remanded to a mental hosptial and his labor of love will most likely not be recognized as a valid work.

I'm here, Mr. Man, I cannot tell no lie and I'll be right here till the day I die


Saw the film last night for the first time in maybe 20 years. Actually, there was a line of dialogue where Donald Crisp (?) is on the phone with someone, telling them to track down the rest of the gang. Yes, Jo DOES seem to have escaped the law; I mean besides having been a fence, didn't she help Clitterhouse dispose Of Rocks' body?

May I bone your kipper, Mademoiselle?


I don't think anyone got away with anything. Dr. Clitterhouse seemed to have lost his mind. We know this by his demeanor in the end. Someone was calling for a doctor but he just babbled incoherently.

I think he snapped when Rocks threatened him. He was studying the mindset of a criminal but he never realized he had started thinking like one too. When he felt cornered he did what criminals do, he thought to dispose of his enemy. Even when he says it's a new aspect of the study he hadn't considered, murder, he was not thinking as himself, the doctor who set out to learn about crime.

Killing Rocks, disposing of his body, then talking to his attorney the way he did was all things a hardened criminal would do. He's insane because he exists between these two worlds and he doesn't really know who or what he is. That's a pretty awful punishment.

He's lost his mind, his practice, his life and freedom. He may not go to jail or to a mental institution but he lost what he tried so hard to protect; his reputation. He'll lose his practice when patients stop seeing him; he'll lose his standing in the community, his money, and his professional authority so his books will probably not sell.

In regards the others, they will get their due too. The book, in which the doctor documented every single detail of his and the gangs' crimes, including, we have to assume, the murder of Rocks and the disposal of his body, was put into evidence at the trial. That's why they were aware of the others and there was a comment made the rest would be rounded up.

He used all their real names and details including blood type. He said he had plans to hide their identities later but I don't think he ever a chance to get around to doing that. What I found amazing about the doctor, the meaning of the title, is how he became what he was studying and thought he could go to any lengths for his research. He talked about how he gave his share of the criminal proceeds to charity and how he planned to end his involvement as if none of what he did mattered. If that's not insane, in the sense of illogical thinking, I don't know what is.

Woman, man! That's the way it should be Tarzan. [Tarzan and his mate]