John Ford weaves three "Judge Priest" stories together to form a good- natured exploration of honour and small-town politics in the South around the turn of the century. Judge William ... See full summary »
Dr. Bull is an old-fashioned country doctor whose affair with the widow Janet Cardmaker is creating waves in the small town where he practices. When there is a mysterious outbreak of typhoid which the doctor is slow in reacting to, it all comes to a head. The townspeople hold an emergency meeting and decide to give Dr. Bull the sack and bring in a new doctor. Dr. Bull must find a way to save his job, his reputation, and a young man's life, whom all other practitioners have written off as a permanent invalid.Written by
In the book, there are discussions about abortion between Doctor Bull and Virginia Banning. These were dropped from the script after a complaint from the Hays Office. In the movie, there is just a vague notion she is pregnant. Also, the character of Larry Ward had a venereal disease in the book, but in the film he's just a hypochondriac. See more »
"Doctor Bull brings his neighbors into the world and postpones their departure as long as possible. He prescribes common sense and accepts his small rewards gratefully. His patients call him Doc." See more »
John Ford certainly loved the medical profession. Go through his film list and wherever you see a doctor character it will inevitably it will be a noble if perhaps flawed character. His most famous doctor was Josiah Boone in Stagecoach where Thomas Mitchell won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. But in Doctor Bull, the first of the three films Ford did with Will Rogers, Rogers is in the title role of George Bull, small New England town physician who has taken care of his town for two going on three generations.
Not that some of the town appreciates his toil. He's angered the powerful Banning family headed by Berton Churchill who has not only poisoned the town water, but poisoned the town against Doctor Bull. His gossipy sisters have filled the town with speculation about the doctor's relationship with Vera Allen a widow. Not like they're not adults, but you have to wonder about the lives that people lead when they're main concern is what everyone else is doing.
The film has some parallels to the Bing Crosby/Barry Fitzgerald film Welcome Stranger when for a brief moment it's thought the town has an epidemic. Some of the vested interests in Fitzgerald's New England town want to remove him as well.
Some of the best comic moments are provided by Rogers and Andy Devine who plays a soda jerk in the local pharmacy and is a constant main in the butt to Rogers because of his imagined ills. Devine is the hypochondriac's hypochondriac.
Rogers is always working 24/7 for his people and using a method that was tried successfully with animals affects a cure from a disease that has left Howard Lally bedridden for months. What happens there gives Rogers the last laugh on his ungrateful town.
The observations on the human condition of Will Rogers are timeless. Medicine does not look the same today as it did for Doctor Bull. But the truths are eternal.
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