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Andrew Manson, a young, enthusiastic doctor takes his first job in a Welsh mining town, and begins to wonder at the persistent cough many of the miners have. When his attempts to prove its cause are thwarted, he moves to London. His new practice does badly. But when a friend shows him how to make a lucrative practice from rich hypochondriacs, it will take a great shock to show him what the truth of being a doctor really is. Written by
Perfect - i'm only sad that it hasn't been rediscovered yet...
I wasn't too sure what to think of Vidor after Our Daily Bread. Usually, filmmakers who have a message to get across, and who don't do it all that subtly, rub me the wrong way. But after seeing The Citadel i'm starting to rethink King Vidor. Indeed i thought Our Daily Bread a very fine film, certainly from the standpoint of direction. But what Bread lacked in the two lead performances (which are quite corny and camp), has been perfected in The Citadel, where we are given two marvellous performances from Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell. And i didn't have the same feeling about Vidor's message-making in Citadel that i did in Bread. It is more subtle in Citadel, and also for a better cause (altruism in the medical profession, a very noble thing, as opposed to socialism, the subject preached about in Our Daily Bread). But now i've started thinking this about Vidor:
He was a passionate artist - how much do i prefer this to someone like Rossellini who didn't think much of movies, or someone like Bergman, who often (he can be optimistic) depicts human nature as an empty, valueless abcess. The fact that he expresses such strong messages, and that in fact he has something that he finds of value, is immensely reassuring. I get so used to railing against preachy filmmakers that i seem to equate non-preachiness with cynicism, and even nihilism. Well, one doesn't have to dispise everything to make a wonderful film, which is what Vidor has done here.
Everything works in The Citadel. It draws you very nicely, without pomp or flashiness, but with immense skill, into its environment, and what a lovely environment it is. You so badly want nothing bad to happen to earnest, idealistic young doctor's assistant Dr Andrew Manson. I hesitate to use the word perfection, but there is a real perfection to this movie. And i was more than a little bit moved by it. I really enjoyed it, i just thought it was wonderful. Mr Vidor really was a king.
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