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 ... See full summary »
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
If you look at my review of the Samuel Goldwyn - John Ford version of ARROWSMITH (1932) I pointed out that the real hard hitting attack on the worst abuses of the training of doctors in the United States and the ambition, greed, and rivalries that mar the medical profession in this country were discarded for the most part when that film was made. Fortunately, six years later, this wonderful film was made by King Vidor on a similarly critical novel by the English writer A. J. Cronin (THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM, HATTER'S CASTLE). Cronin usually was not, like Sinclair Lewis, a social critic - he was a general novelist. But in THE CITADEL he turned perceptive social critic. Like Lewis (in his novel) the society is just as guilty about the malfunctions of the medical profession as the doctors are. But here it was spelled out.
Robert Donat is a newly trained doctor in England, and he initially is quite the idealist as Ronald Colman was as Martin Arrowsmith. Donat's Dr. Andrew Manson tries to fight society for it's own good, but finds it has a habit of hitting back at idealists. Soon, despite the emotional support of his wife Christine (Rosalind Russell), Andrew discovers the pleasures of becoming a prosperous society doctor. He has such wonderful models before him - like Rex Harrison, who talks of the "heart of gold" of his patients in reference to their bank accounts rather than their personalities (Harrison, in his autobiography REX, admitted that he got into serious trouble with his personal doctor after the latter heard that line and confronted him at Rex's next examination).
His best friend and colleague (Dr. Denny - Ralph Richardson) tries to get him to work with a set of idealistic doctors in making a first rate, reasonably priced clinic for the poor and working classes, but Donat rejects the offer. He also turns out to be cold towards the plea of the owner of an Italian restaurant for help for her little daughter (although he is aware of an odd-ball genius who can help the girl with a radical surgery technique). It is only when a tragedy occurs that he is shaken out of his current complacency back to his duty as a healer.
It is regrettable that ARROWSMITH was badly butchered in it's script and production, but it is to be thoroughly commended that this excellent version of THE CITADEL exists to show how the first novel should have been handled.
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