AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Alias the Doctor
Alternate Title: Environment
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
Release Date:   26 Mar 1932
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 25 Feb 1932
Production Date:   began 5 Dec 1931
Duration (in mins):   62
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Richard Barthelmess (Karl Muller)  
    Marian Marsh (Lottie Brenner)  
    Norman Foster (Stephan Brenner)  
    Adrienne Dore (Anna)  
    Lucille LaVerne (Mother Brenner)  
    Oscar Apfel (Keller)  
    John St. Polis (Dr. Niergardt)  
    George Rosener (Von Bergman)  
    Wallis Clark (Kleinschmidt)  
    Claire Dodd (Mrs. Beverly)  
    Boris Karloff (Autopsy surgeon)  
    Reginald Barlow (Professor of the university)  
    Arnold Lucy (The Deacon)  
    Harold Waldridge (Willie)  
    Robert Farfan (Franz)  

Summary: Karl Muller and his foster brother, Stephan Brenner, leave their farm in the Austrian countryside, and travel to Vienna to study medicine. Karl is in love with his foster sister, Lottie Brenner, and would rather work as a farmer, but in deference to the wishes of his foster mother, Mrs. Brenner, he studies hard and is named valedictorian of his class. Stephan, on the other hand, enjoys drinking and flirting more than studying. One night, while drunk, he performs an illegal operation on his girl friend Anna. After she becomes very ill, he confesses everything to Karl, who agrees to try to help her, even though he does not yet have his license. While Karl is with Anna, she dies, and he takes full blame for the operation in order to spare Mrs. Brenner's feelings. He is not allowed to graduate and spends time in prison. After he leaves prison, he returns home to find that Stephan has died. Karl is eager to return to farming, but after he successfully operates on a boy injured in an accident in front of the house, Mrs. Brenner convinces him to pose as Stephan and continue his work as a surgeon. Karl travels to Vienna to work with earthquake victims and is extremely successful. However, now that he is supposed to be Lottie's brother, they are forbidden to marry. Mrs. Brenner forces Lottie to announce her engagement to another man but, seeing how unhappy she is, remorsefully writes the truth about Karl to his supervisor. Although the board of directors dismisses him, Karl begs to be allowed to operate on his foster mother, who has collapsed in the street. They relent and the operation is a success. No longer a doctor, Karl finally marries Lottie and they return to the land. 

Production Company: First National Pictures, Inc. (Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.)
Distribution Company: First National Pictures, Inc.  
  The Vitaphone Corp.  
Director: Michael Curtiz (Dir)
Writer: Houston Branch (Adpt)
  Charles Kenyon (Dial)
Photography: Barney McGill (Photog)
  Kenneth Green (2d cam)
  William Whitley (Asst cam)
Art Direction: Anton Grot (Art dir)
Film Editor: Frank Magee (Ed)
  William Holmes (Ed)
Music: Leo F. Forbstein (Vitaphone Orch cond)
Sound: C. Dave Forrest (Sd)
Production Misc: Dr. Harry Martin (Tech dir)
  Mack Elliott (Still photog)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play A Kuruzslo by Emric Földes (copyrighted 9 Jun 1927).
Authors: Emric Földes

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
First National Pictures, Inc. 2/3/1932 dd/mm/yyyy LP2897

Physical Properties: Sd:

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Medical
Subjects (Major): Austria
  Foster parents
  Impersonation and imposture
  Mothers and sons
Subjects (Minor): Automobile accidents
  Beer gardens
  City-country contrast
  Foster children
  Lure of the country
  Medical students
  Munich (Germany)
  Operations, Surgical

Note: The film's pre-release title was Environment . FD notes that John St. Polis replaced Arnold Korff in the role of Dr. Niergardt. Technical director Dr. Harry Martin was married to Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons. Some contemporary sources list William Holmes as editor. A French-language version, Le cas de docteur Brenner , was also produced in 1932. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   22 Nov 31   p. 4.
Film Daily   30 Nov 31   p. 1.
Film Daily   1 Dec 31   p. 7.
Film Daily   6 Mar 32   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Oct 31   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Feb 32   p. 3.
International Photographer   1 Apr 32   p. 30.
Motion Picture Herald   12 Mar 32   pp. 55-56.
New York Times   3 Mar 32   p. 22.
Variety   8 Mar 32   p. 23.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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