Little Pal - originally 'The Healer' (June 15, 1935)

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Ralph Bellamy in Little Pal
 
 

Released June 15, 1935: Doc Holden's love for a high society girl and her world threatens his medical practice in his small country home town.

Directed by Reginald Barker

The Actors: Ralph Bellamy (Dr. Holden), Karen Morley (Evelyn Allen), Mickey Rooney (Jimmy), Judith Allen (Joan Bradshaw), Robert McWade (Mr. Bradshaw, Joan's father), Bruce Warren (Doctor Thornton), J. Farrell MacDonald (Applejack), Vessie Farrell (Martha).

 

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Medicine was evolving quickly in the 1930's, and this motion picture hit a popular chord with the viewers when it was shown in theaters. The story line comes from a popular novel of the day, "The Healer," and starred two of the box office stars of the day, Ralph Bellamy and a very young Mickey Rooney. This is a classic love triangle between a dedicated country doctor, his girlfriend that came from a wealthy family that lost everything in 'the crash,' and a wealthy society girl that wants to take him from her.

Dr. Holden is known as 'The Healer' - a doctor that seems to be able to work miracles on patients that conventional medicine has given up on. In the beginning, we see the doctor working with young Jimmy, who has paralyzed legs. The doctor massages his legs, and gets little Jimmy to imagine that he is riding a bicycle, forcing him to try to stretch and bend his legs on his imaginary bike ride. Then he helps him to float in the warm springs nearby, trying to get him to move his legs to swim.

Visiting the area on vacation are a wealthy father and daughter, the Bradshaws. Joan Bradshaw thinks that the doctor is really cute, and decides to get closer to him. Father Bradshaw is a wealthy businessman with 'dispepsia' - a bad stomach. His expensive city doctors have given him pills to take after he eats meat, pills to take after he eats fish, pills to take after he eats pork, and pills to take when he isn't eating. Lots of pills, and still a bad stomach. One afternoon Judith sets out on horseback to visit the doctor, but is turned away at the gates by Applejack, his old helper. Judith won't take no for an answer, and races her horse to jump the fence and get onto the doctor's road to his house. After jumping the fence, Judith falls off her horse and is in a coma, nearing death. Only immediate surgery on her brain can save her, and Dr. Holden performs the surgery and saves her life. During her recovery, while the doctor is helping her to sit up in her bed, she plants a big smooch on the doctor, which he gladly participates in. His girlfriend pops in and sees the kiss and is saddened and distraught.

The Bradshaws, father and daughter, after failing to persuade Doctor Holden to leave the country and serve the masses in the city, convince him to let them build a medical sanitarium right there in the mountains, so the doctor can see many more patients. We quickly segway to the doctor looking out a window over his new medical complex. It has become a haven for the wealthy who spend tons of money to have their mostly imaginary illnesses treated. Judith gets the doctor immersed into the wealthy lifestyle, while he forgets about little Jimmy and his old girlfriend Evelyn. It appears that the money and lifestyle of the rich and famous has pulled the doctor into it's grip, and the poor country folk will be without any medical help. But when a forest fire threatens the valley, Dr. Holden's world comes crashing down around him, and his priorities are suddenly clear once more, but it may be too late to recover his lost world as the fire sweeps over everything and everyone, including little Jimmy and Evelyn, his old girlfriend.

While you are watching this medical thriller and munching on your bowl of popcorn, take note of the character actor 'Applejack' - played by J. Farrell MacDonald - if you check out his other movies, you will discover that he was in quite a few movies - never in a starring role, but adding the 'spice' to many motion pictures with his unique character style.