Once a Doctor (1937): William Clemens’ Medical Family Melodrama, Starring Jean Muir, Donald Woods, Gordon Oliver, Joe King, Henry Kolker and Gordon Hart (Family, Siblings Rivalry)

William Clemens directed Once a Doctor, a Warner’s medical drama, written by Robertson White and Ben Grauman Kohn.

The film stars Jean Muir, Donald Woods, Gordon Oliver, Joe King, Henry Kolker and Gordon Hart.

Steven Brace and his irresponsible, alcoholic foster brother, Jerry, are both physicians, as is Dr. Frank Brace, their father.

The brothers work at a hospital led by brain surgeon Dr. Bruce Nordland and both are in love with Nordland’s daughter, Paula.

Jerry’s drunkenness results in car accident seriously injures the nurse, Ruby, he has been dating. To avoid scrutiny and punishment, Jerry takes the woman home rather than to the hospital, then begs Steven to save her.

Extracting a promise from Jerry to sober up and look after the hospital patient, Steven goes to Ruby’s side, but both patients die. A cowardly Jerry puts the blame and on his brother, who is fired barred from future medical practice.

Nordland suspects the truth, but he can permits Steven to perform certain medical duties at a clinic. Forced to perform another urgent operation, Steven again takes the blame when the patient dies and he is imprisoned.

On a boat heading to Cuba, yet another foolhardy act by Jerry while inebriated leads to a head injury for his own father. Steven is summoned to treat a dying patient. He does so with reluctance, urged by Paula to honor his Hippocratic oath.

Jerry’s guilty conscience finally admits to all that has transpired previously.

In the happy ending, Steven’s reputation is restored and Paula is in love with him.

The film was released by Warner Bros. on January 23, 1937.

Jean Muir as Paula Nordland
Donald Woods as Dr. Steven Brace
Gordon Oliver as Dr. Jerry Brace
Joe King as Dr. Frank Brace
Henry Kolker as Dr. Bruce Nordland
Gordon Hart as Dr. Harry Lewis
Joseph Crehan as Captain Andrews
Louise Stanley as Ruby Norton
Robert Paige as Dr. Burton
Edwin Stanley as Dr. Adams
Houseley Stevenson as Magistrate Kendrick
Harland Tucker as Prosecuting Attorney
Guy Usher as Warden
Thomas Pogue as Dr. Artemus ‘Doc’ Dade
Edward Keane as Captain Littlejohn, S.S. Orlando


Directed by William Clemens
Screenplay by Robertson White, Ben Grauman Kohn
Story by Frank T. Daugherty, Paul Perez
Produced by Jack L. Warner, Hal B. Wallis
Cinematography L. William O’Connell
Edited by Clarence Kolster
Music by Heinz Roemheld

Production and distribution: Warner Bros.

Release date: January 23, 1937

Running time: 57 minutes