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|Index||26 reviews in total|
I found the performances of Donat and Russel fascinating so many years
the film was made. A J Cronyn's story is relevant even today and that
the film entertaining. King Vidor needs to be complimented on getting such
wonderful performances out of the leading pair as well as Rex Harrison and
Ralph Richardson. Mary Clare as Mrs Orlando was also an interesting though
brief performance. Harry Stradling's camerawork is impressive, if taken in
perspective of the film's vintage.
What is a shame is that Rosalind Russel was not picked up by good directors for meaty serious roles, after this noteworthy performance.
This is King Vidor's best talky and almost an equal to his silent
masterpieces "The Crowd" and "The Big Parade." Based on a best selling
novel by A.J. Cronin, this is one of the few times when the movie is
actually better than the book. Added to the exceptional direction - pay
particular note of the scene where Dr. Manson (Robert Donat) wanders
the streets in a daze following the death of his best friend and
appears to be oblivious to the poverty and hardships of street life -
is a cast made in Hollywood heaven. Not only do you have two of the
best actors around in 1938, Robert Donat and Rosalind Russell, you also
have two of the most gifted performers ever to grace the big screen:
Ralph Richardson and Rex Harrison. Then take a look at the rest of the
cast. What talent in front of the camera.
The story never degenerates into soap opera melodrama. Some have called it a morality tale. To some extent that is true, but it is a morality tale of the highest order. The citadel of medical science is what Dr. Manson climbs to reach in his early idealistic days in a Welsh mining town, not unlike the one in "How Green Was My Valley." He meets his life companion there, a school teacher, Christine Barlow, (Rosalind Russell). She never loses her idealism, unlike her husband who becomes cynical and comes to love the materialistic life. He stops his climb toward the citadel. Instead he descends into depravity and greed until his friend's death brings him to his senses. Though he has still not reached the citadel at the end of the movie, we know he will someday.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film has a lot of enjoyable moments, such as when Manson (Robert
Donat) and Denny (Ralph Richardson) drunkenly blow up the sewer that
has been the cause of so much misery and death in the village early on.
The ending sort of dangles. The powers that be, after Dr. Manson has, with the help of an unlicensed practitioner, saved a little girl's life by collapsing her lung with a new, untried method (she's the daughter of the Italian restaurant's owner who Manson, now a society doctor, had tuned out when telling of her daughter's problem), are looking very seriously to striking the good doctor from the medical register. He and his wife blithely leave the courtroom to face an uncertain future, possible as an unlicensed practitioner himself. But who cares as long as they have each other!
Cecil Parker is excellent as the society surgeon who has no more business in an operating room than the man in the moon. I felt like Dr. Manson should have pushed him away and dove in when Denny's life hung in the balance and was lost. Denny had been hit by a car after leaving Manson's posh flat, having fallen off the wagon when he realized his friend had lost his ideals.
That was the beginning of Manson regaining his ideals.
It's ironic that Donat's character is interested in lung ailments since chronic asthma is was took him. It had been commented on (about another of Donat's movies, I believe) that asthma is treatable now and with today's treatments he would have survived longer. Maybe. Maybe not. Asthma is an unstable enemy. Just when you think you have it under control, it turns around and bites you. True, there are more and better treatments. In Donat's time the standard treatment was adrenaline shots and tedral tablets. But it's still a killer.
Hmmm, maybe that's the aspect of the character that attracted him to making the movie.
One of the reviews for this movie said that Manson didn't have an affair with a society woman, as he did in the book (which I haven't read). They sure did imply a "relationship" since he stands his wife up for the hysterical (on many levels) society patient. Takes a little more than professional interest in her.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Superior drama, effectively recounting Donat's progress from innocent idealism through corrupted morals and back, just in time for the movie climax. Based on a best-selling contemporary novel, the movie plays almost inevitably episodically but the tale is well told in "rise, fall and rise again" fashion, reaching a suitably noble climax as Robert Donat rediscovers his true self and at the same time rekindles the dying love of his wife Rosalind Russell. The contrasts between the poor living conditions of the working class Welsh village he initially serves to the opulence of the high - society aristocrats who seduce his ideals (largely out on the golf - course) are well brought out by director Vidor but above all else he's aided by a top cast on top form. Donat effortlessly moves from youthful high hopes (and spirits!) in the company of Ralph Richardson (especially the drunken comedic scene where they blow up the sewers to ward off a typhoid risk) to lazy disaffectation, in the company of the ever - urbane Rex Harrison with equal elan. Although his role is speechy at times, he is always convincing and believable. The afore - mentioned Messrs Richardson & Harrison show their already established talents in contrasting roles and Russell is youthfully radiant as his supportive wife. Illness was to deprive Donat of making the most of his talents, but just consider the disparate movies he adorned of those he managed - "Goodbye Mr Chips", "The Thirty Nine Steps" and right at the end of his life "The Inn of the Sixth Happiness". That he shines in the artistic company which surrounds him here is further testimony to an underrated talent.
While this film about doctors might seem a tad dated, its messages are
rather timeless and the film is well worth your time. In many ways, the
film is very reminiscent of several other 1930s "noble doctor films",
such as ARROWSMITH, but there's enough uniqueness to the film that it's
still well worth seeing.
Young Robert Donat is just out of medical school and eager to help mankind--particularly the poor and often forgotten. Unfortunately, the two times in the film where he devotes so much of his energy to assisting these people he is ultimately disappointed and sometimes betrayed by the very people he wants to help. So, naturally, after either struggling to make ends meet or being attacked for trying to innovate, he is sick of it all and begins working with rich clients who don't particularly have any problems--other than the fact that they are pampered and love to throw their money at doctors with the latest fad and quack treatments! How Donat and his lovely wife, Rosalind Russell make it through all this is pretty interesting. Plus, I was pretty amazed and happy that the film ended on a very uncertain note. Some may hate the vagueness of the conclusion, but I liked it this way, as it really encouraged you to think.
The film has excellent acting, writing and direction and it a great film for young doctors to see as they go out into the world.
I've seen this film at least 3 times during the last 12 months in the
early hours of the morning, when TCM (Turner Classic Movies) have
chosen to air it during the wee hours when most sane people are still
producing the Z's. And despite seeing it before and knowing the
storyline more or less by heart, I have to watch it again and again.
I've become something of a Robert Donat fan thanks entirely to TCM. This and other splendid films he made during his all-too-brief lifetime are a trademark of outstanding capability. He died only a couple of years after my own life began so I never knew him in respect of current performances.
In this film one can easily imagine the obstacles that a young doctor faced in dealing with "the establishment" during the early 20th century. Sadly, even in the early years of the 21st century "the establishment" still feels it knows best in some quarters.
This is not one of King Vidor's finest achievements.A pioneer during
the silent area(the big parade,the crowd),a great director in the
talkies too (our daily bread,duel in the sun,Ruby
Gentry,Fountainhead),he does not seem to be that much inspired with AJ
Cronin's rather conventional novels.The direction is academic and
static,inspiration is absent.
What still appeals in this movie is the interpretation.Robert Donat is a very competent actor,particularly in the first part.Because it's basically a two-part movie:
-The first part,the most convincing, deals with poor parts of England,focusing on the miners' health.Although some scenes seem unlikely (the baby),the depiction of this little town,with its simple life,its teacher (a good Rosalind Russel) who will marry the doctor,its tragedies in the mine,is really endearing.Maybe John Ford will remember it when he films "how green was my valley".
-The second part,in which the hero loses -temporarily- his soul and gains the world-London-.An excellent Rex Harrison-sadly,his part is much too short-"treats" old rich hypocondriacs.And the hero realizes that rich people mean a lot of money.Sometimes it verges on caricature(the hysterical woman).The best scene :the owner of the small Italian restaurant tells Donat about her daughter's health problems ,and he goes on picking out his hors d'oeuvres ,indifferent to the mother's plight.
This seems often dated,but it's worth watching.
I thought Robert Donat's portrayal of Andrew Manson, a doctor at first
thrilled by the act of healing and then later seduced by the easy money
for caring for very wealthy - but more lonely and obsessed than sick -
patients was superb. Rosalind Russell at first seemed like an unlikely
choice for the female lead as Manson's wife, but she does a first-rate
job and makes me believe that she is this quiet yet individualistic
Welsh schoolmarm who falls for and marries the young doctor. Their
courtship is touching, and the reason for the doctor's proposal to her
makes for an awkward but sweet scene between the two. Ralph Richardson,
in the years before he was given to largely playing various shades of
scoundrel, is here the voice of medical ethics, bawdy though that voice
The film's larger storyline was far from original, and you can pretty much see what direction the plot is going to take at each juncture as the film is neatly subdivided into three parts. I was therefore quite surprised to discover it was Oscar-nominated for its screenplay. I'd recommend this one mainly to watch the outstanding performances of Robert Donat, Rosalind Russell, and Ralph Richardson early in their careers as well as a very young Rex Harrison playing a rather devilish doctor in a supporting role.
A wonderful look into the medical profession with a fine performance by
that wonderful character actor Robert Donat.
Rebuked by the coal citizens of Wales when he wants to research tuberculosis and working in the mines, Donat is lured to working with the wealthy and living the appropriately high society life style.
It is only with the death of a friend during botched surgery by a doctor for the wealthy, the Donat character realizes that it's time to go back to his former way of doctoring.
Rosalind Russell is miscast as Donat's wife. In the film, she is the prim teacher who gave up her teaching career to marry the good doctor.
This film is an excellent representation of the medical profession. It is extremely well done and worth watching.
This movie shows the ease with which a young doctor can lose his ideals
when he finds himself in the company of colleagues whose prime
motivation is status and material reward. The role of the doctor is
performed by Robert Donat, with Rosalind Russell as his wife. The
Citadel is directed by King Vidor with a strong supporting cast,
particularly the role performed by Ralph Richardson.
It is Richardson's accident that brings Donat to his senses as he realizes he has lost the ideals that once motivated him. Movies can entertain or provide escapism but the medium can also say something important. It can give us a dose of social realism such as Bicycle Thieves (the post World War II Italian film) or as in this film, exhort us to improve the human condition.
In this movie, medicine is subverted for personal gain and social status. The theme of the movie is not about medicine per se but about values. In this case, the ethics that certain professional people adopt when they make their way in the world. This theme is not new but deserves repeating, no less today than in the 1930's when the movie was made.
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