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In 1944, Capt. Josiah J. Newman is the doctor in charge of Ward 7, the neuropsychiatric ward, at an Army Air Corps hospital in Arizona. The hospital is under-resourced and Newman scrounges what he needs with the help of his inventive staff, especially Cpl. Jake Leibowitz. The military in general is only just coming to accept psychiatric disorders as legitimate and Newman generally has 6 weeks to cure them or send them on to another facility. There are many patients in the ward and his latest include Colonel Norville Bliss who has dissociated from his past; Capt. Paul Winston who is nearly catatonic after spending 13 months hiding in a cellar behind enemy lines; and 20 year-old Cpl. Jim Tompkins who is severely traumatized after his aircraft was shot down. Others come and go, including Italian prisoners of war, but Newman and team all realize that their success means the men will return to their units and combat. Written by
Captain Newman states that in the psychiatric ward, no knives are permitted. Yet Corporals Leibowitz and Gavoni, both orderlies in the ward, had quite a large knife amongst the patients to cut up the salami. See more »
I previously gave a terrible review to Peck's movie Spellbound. This movie just goes to show that he CAN make a good movie about psychiatry (unlike Spellbound--yuck).
Peck is an officer running a psychiatric ward stateside during WWII. He has a good heart and good intentions and tries a lot of different techniques to help these men. What I like is that although he is generally successful, it is very clear Captain Newman feels, at times, over his head dealing with these many patients. He is not a SUPERMAN but a decent guy who's trying his best.
Tony Curtis is the comic relief. So, while the movie is VERY serious at times, it also can be rather comical. This is a tough balance but it is done well and I liked Curtis in this film.
However, apart from Gregory Peck, the real standout in the movie is Bobby Darin. Although he only is a supporting player, his is the meatiest performance. He wonderfully plays a man suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (though he outwardly hides it with bravado and obnoxiousness)--this is particularly true when he is under the influence of Sodium Pentathol (or some other "truth serum"). I would say it is worth seeing the film just for this sequence--it's just so nice that there are many other good moments to recommend this flick.
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