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Sister Kenny (1946)

Approved | | Biography, Drama | 10 October 1946 (USA)
An Australian nurse discovers an effective new treatment for infantile paralysis, but experiences great difficulty in convincing doctors of the validity of her claims.

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Dr. McDonnell
...
Kevin Connors
...
Dr. Brack
...
Mary Kenny
...
Michael Kenny
...
Medical Director
Doreen McCann ...
Dorrie
Fay Helm ...
Mrs. McIntyre
...
Mr. McIntyre
Dorothy Peterson ...
Agnes
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Undetermined Minor Role (scenes deleted)
Teddy Infuhr ...
Boy (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

Elizabeth Kenny, as a young nurse out in the Australian bush discovers an effective treatment for polio, but can't get official recognition or sanction for her techniques and theories. For more than three decades (while she tells her fiancée she can't marry him, and repeatedly confronts the pigheaded orthopedic specialist Dr. Brack), she is prevented from treating acute cases and is ridiculed, while she seeks formal recognition for the efficacy of her treatment. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A woman made for love . . . but whose service to humanity became her destiny!

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 October 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amor sublime  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Wikipedia article on Elizabeth Kenny lists notable individuals who had been polio patients of Sister Kenny. Among those listed are Alan Alda, Dinah Shore and "Rosalind Russell's nephew." It is known that Rosalind Russell had campaigned long to portray Sister Kenny in film. Her nephew's treatment may have been a factor in that interest. See more »

Goofs

Whilst addressing a forum of doctors, Sister Kenny is asked whether she remembers the final paragraph of the oath she took to become a registered nurse, and she recounts that paragraph. The real Sister Kenny received no formal nursing training and was not a registered nurse. She enlisted as a nurse in the army in WW1 backed by a letter from a doctor stating she had experience working in a bush hospital and was given the title Sister by the army. See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Birthday to You
(1893) (uncredited)
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
Sung by children to Rosalind Russell
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Polio.
7 November 2013 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

I wasn't expecting much from a biography of Sister Kenny, an Australian nurse who developed a method of treatment for children stricken with poliomyelitis. I could see it all. One child after breathing his last, "God bless Sister Kenny," while she sobbed at his bedside and held his hand while he slipped away. At the end, after her apotheosis, during a triumphant crescendo, a crippled boy throws away his crutches and cries, "I can WALK, mein Fuhrer!"

But no. Sister Kenny, knowing nothing about infantile paralysis, begins fiddling around with it in the Australian outback and develops a theory that is, in some senses, the exact opposite of the medical establishment's. That establishment is really "pig-headed", as she puts it. Well, they have to be, actually. The experts and their received wisdom can't be successfully challenged by a mere mortal. If they were, they wouldn't be "experts" anymore. She's successful, of course, or there would be no movie. All this takes place during the first half of the 20th century and has Sister Kenny traveling from Australia to Europe and to Minnesota. Old friends die. Children are apparently cured.

There are a couple of things that lift the film out of the ordinary biopic genre. One is Rosalind Russel's performance and the way her role is written by Dudley Nichols. She's impertinent and sarcastic. In fact she reminded me a lot of Margaret Mead, acerbic and distant, putting family life second to her career. Russel has never been better in what is a fairly demanding role.

Another point in its favor is that we are mercifully spared the sobbing and the dying and the children begging for help from a mothering figure. Russel is hardly maternal. Multiple opportunities for pointless and sentimental scenes were eschewed. Her humanity is on display in abundance but it's in code.

Nice job.


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