The true story that shocked 1930's Canada. When a poor rural Ontario family gives birth to quintuplet, the town doctor doesn't waste a second and takes over the family. He helps to take ...
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The true story that shocked 1930's Canada. When a poor rural Ontario family gives birth to quintuplet, the town doctor doesn't waste a second and takes over the family. He helps to take care of the babies but soon turns the babies into a freak show. Not before long the government gets involved and the babies are a multi-million dollar industry. But how can the uneducated couple regain their babies and their lives? Written by
Steve Richer <email@example.com>
There is a scene in A NIGHT AT THE OPERA where Groucho and Chico are trying to agree to a contract. Amidst their patter about this clause and that one ("That's just the average "sanity" clause", says Groucho; "You cannot fool-a me," smiles Chico, "there ain't no "sanity" clause."). One of the other confusions in their dialog is when Groucho says that the contract has to be signed in triplicate. "You know what triplicate means?", asks Groucho. "Yeah,", says Chico,"It's those kids in Canada!" Chico's comment is based on the names of the most famous babies on Earth in 1935, the one year old Dionne Quintuplets. Born in a poor hamlet in the Province of Ontario in 1934 the Quintuplets were a rarity at that date of five living babies born to the same mother on the same day. They quickly became the subject of as much public attention as the President (FDR), Adolf Hitler, George Bernard Shaw, Clark Gable, Greta Garbo, Mahatma Gandhi, and maybe twenty other super celebrities of that date). Put another way - it was more likely that the average non-Canadian would have heard of the Dionne Quintuplets than the current Prime Minister of Canada (Richard Bradford Bennett) or the current Premier of the province of Ontario (Mitchell Hepburn).
Their story would be known in the west until about 1939 when the coming of the World War finally made their youthful travails seem trivial. But occasionally they returned to public notice. One of the girls had mental problems and died early in her adult life. Another died in the 1990s. Occasionally stories about fights concerning financial matters surfaced. But (like so much) it became part of yesterday's news. Few people cared who were not in their immediate circle.
The television film MILLION DOLLAR BABIES dealt with the economic, social, and political upheaval the birth of the babies brought about. You need to understand points to see how this could happen.
The Dionne family (Roy Dupuis and Celine Bonnier) were French and Roman Catholic. This did not set them up well outside of Quebec. Unfortunately they were living in the Province of Ontario, and the doctor who brought the girls into the world, Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe (Beau Bridges) was a bigot. He disliked Roman Catholics and French Canadians. A pretentious type, Dafoe decided that the quintuplets were such a unique miracle for that day they should have state sponsored care (under himself, of course), away from their parents. Through a series of legal tricks, Dafoe got the Dionnes to sign documents putting the babies into his care. He then interested Prime Minister Hepburn (Sean McCann) in setting up a state-of-the-art nursery and hospital for the care of these children. Hepburn was just elected to his position as the Prime Minister of Ontario as a Liberal. Although Mackenzie King was the party leader in Ottawa opposed to Prime Minister Bennett, he'd been out of power for four years. Hepburn, as head of the second largest province in population, had dreams of replacing King as Liberal leader and possible Prime Minister.The publicity involved with the babies would help immensely. He fully supported Dafoe.
The Doctor and the Prime Minister exploited the kids. There would be plenty of advertisements for baby products that got "endorsements by the Dione Quintuplets" through Dafoe. There were even a series of movies from Hollywood supposedly based on their adventures. There was huge sums of money involved, and none of it was going to the parents.
This film was the first to discuss this disgraceful story completely. Instead of concentrating on five prattling babies, or five female moppets at play or school, the story was one of greed and ambition. And few come out looking all that good. The five quintuplets do, but the adults don't.
The father is upset at the nasty anti-French/Roman Catholic methods of Dafoe, and manages to damage one public event by coaching the girls to ask about some unpleasant situation regarding French Canadian rights. But as it turns out, he is as willing to milk these kids for all he can as Hepburn and Dafoe are. Dafoe, who in time actually did show he could care for the children, managed to blow his position because (1) he got tipsy at an important conference he had to attend in New York City, and 2) the same snobbery he held for the parents and their French Canadian forbears was pointed at him being "inadequate" regarding his medical background - he was a simple country practitioner, and could not handle a hospital.
This was a good little history lesson into the dangers of sudden fame for the weakest in society, when the social order steps in. In the end (frequently) the biggest losers are those who get the sudden fame.
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