skip navigation
A Doctor's Diary

A Doctor's Diary(1937)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

Dr. Daniel Norris, resident physician at Stanwood Hospital, is engaged to the president's daughter, Catherine Stanwood. He has been diligently experimenting to find a cure for polio and neglects his fiancée because of this. When he and other physicians refuse to operate on a young woman because her physician is late in arriving, nurse Ruth Hanlon accuses Dan, Dr. Ellery Stanwood and Dr. Anson Ludlow of negligence, even though she knows it is against medical ethics to take over another doctor's case without his permission. Dan is forced to fire Ruth because of her outspokenness, but she leaves on friendly terms with him, and he records her parting words in his diary. One day, family doctor Clem Driscoll brings in a charity case, Michael Fielding, an eleven-year-old boy, who has a gift for playing the violin. Dan makes the initial diagnosis, and the case is taken by Ludlow. Ludlow is called away to treat a wealthy patron of the hospital the day that Michael is scheduled for surgery, and although Dan believes that the boy will suffer if the surgery is postponed, he does not interfere. Before he leaves the hospital to join Catherine at the opera one night, he sees the patient over whom Ruth lost her job wheeled out of her room, dead, and goes to visit Ruth at her manicurist job. She is touched by his concern. Three days later, Michael goes into surgery, but the infection has spread too far, and he loses the use of his arm. Mrs. Fielding files suit against Ludlow and the hospital for criminal negligence, and Dan loses his job because he agrees to testify on her behalf. As Dan reluctantly packs up his office and leaves his research lab, Catherine announces that she will leave him if he does not change his position, but, already a little drunk, he does not budge. He arrives at Ruth's apartment completely drunk, and vowing his love for her, falls asleep on the couch. Ruth and Dan go to work with Driscoll, who is inundated with cases of infantile paralysis, or poliomyelitis, as an epidemic sweeps the city. Frustrated by his inability to truly help the children, Dan begs local hospitals to allow him to continue his research for a cure, but he is refused. Desperate, he agrees to testify on behalf of the hospital when Stanwood offers to reopen his position. During the trial, Mrs. Fielding becomes overwrought when she hears Dan's testimony, and grabbing a policeman's gun, shoots Dan. Catherine returns to Dan, but in a stupor from his operation, Dan calls out Ruth's name, and Catherine leaves. Dan recovers from his injury and returns to work, as does Ruth, whom he has married. His latest entry in his diary is that Ludlow operated on Michael Fielding with complete success.