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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
The Citadel is a fine and inspirational film about a dedicated young doctor and the hardships he has to overcome to see his destiny and move to fulfill it. A lot of the same ground was covered before in Arrowsmith and would be covered again in Not As A Stranger and then in over a dozen or more medical drama shows on television. Stories about medicine and its practice is a genre we will never tire of.
Robert Donat plays the idealistic young doctor who is assigned a number of positions in Great Britain and the story is how he deals with the various situations he encounters. Along the way he picks up a wife in the person of Rosalind Russell.
For an American to review this film probably one should have a knowledge of the British health system and remember this would have been before the days of the current health system of socialized medicine. That system was put in before the post World War II Labour government changed things.
One of his assignments is a coalmining area in Wales and Donat because of his own integrity and commitment manages to make a whole bunch of enemies and has to leave. His assignment is in what might be described as an HMO run by the coal miner's union. He starts doing research in a chronic cough he notices several of the miners have and upsets a whole lot of applecarts both with labor and management. He also isn't so easy with giving sick slips to malingering workers and they don't come to his defense. Not easy at times to be an idealist.
For a while Donat takes an easy road in a wealthy sanitarium that caters to upper class hypochondriacs. Doctors Felix Aylmer and Rex Harrison are getting rich themselves off them. But eventually Donat finds his true calling in research.
Rosalind Russell said that working with Donat was a pleasure, but the film itself wasn't. She and Director King Vidor were the only Americans in this film and she and Vidor took a lot of criticism for taking jobs away from British players. Not like she had anything to say about it, MGM loaned her out there. Still she did her job without a trace of a British accent.
Besides Aylmer and Harrison other noteworthy British players in the cast are Emlyn Williams and Francis L. Sullivan. Williams is one of the local union heads and Sullivan is a blustering boorish lout of a miner who leads the opposition to Donat's research. All of them do fine jobs and Harrison got his first real notice by American audiences in his role.
Because for two generations we Americans have been awash with medical dramas all these situations seem all to familiar to us. That's a jaded point of view. The Citadel is a fine drama and worth seeing.
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