Yellow Jack

Major Walter Reed sets out to find the cause of yellow fever which is taking a huge toll in Cuba following the Spanish-American War. After months of unsuccessful research, he uncovers an old theory that a particular species of mosquito is responsible. In order to prove the theory, he conducts human experiments on volunteers. Three volunteers are confined to the "dirty" house: constantly exposed to soiled linens and clothes from infected soldiers with a stove always stoked to keep temperatures high.  Two others are confined to the "clean" house: disinfected and well fed, but one has been bitten by a mosquito that had previously bitten an infected soldier. The theory was proved and the menace eradicated by ridding the island of standing water. The successful practice was carried into the Panama Canal construction area to finally allow the completion of that project.

Robert Montgomery plays John O'Hara, the ringleader of the volunteers. Virginia Bruce is a nurse and his love interest. Lewis Stone (Judge Hardy) plays Walter Reed. My mom watched this with me and pointed out Andy Devine, but she confused him with Gene Autry's sidekick, Smiley Burnette.  Both are frog-voiced sidekick types. Charles Coburn plays the doctor who originally came up with the mosquito theory. Buddy Ebsen plays a character called "Jellybeans", one of the volunteers in the "dirty" house.  Jonathan Hale plays a Major General, and I just saw him as Detective Cramer in Tarnished Angel. I recognize him mainly as Mr. Dithers, Dagwood's boss from the Blondie movies. The first Blondie movie is from 1938 but I haven't caught it on TV yet.

I watched this whole movie thinking it was about malaria but on review I realize it is about yellow fever which, while also spread by mosquitoes, is a completely different disease.

Robert Montgomery and Virginia Bruce

Charles Coburn admires his mosquito collection

Robert Montgomery and Andy Devine

Yellow Jack trailer on TCM


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