7.2/10
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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:

Dudley Nichols

Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Rosalind Russell ... Elizabeth Kenny
Alexander Knox ... Dr. McDonnell
Dean Jagger ... Kevin Connors
Philip Merivale ... Dr. Brack
Beulah Bondi ... Mary Kenny
Charles Dingle ... Michael Kenny
John Litel ... Medical Director
Doreen McCann Doreen McCann ... Dorrie McIntyre
Fay Helm ... Mrs. McIntyre
Charles Kemper ... Mr. McIntyre
Dorothy Peterson ... Agnes
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
James Burke ... Undetermined Minor Role (scenes deleted)
Teddy Infuhr 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 October 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sister Kenny See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

It was reported at the time that Elizabeth Kenny was paid $100,000 for the rights to her story by RKO. She then donated the amount to a trust fund set up for the benefit of seventeen nephews who were all in the Royal Australian Air Force at the time. And, it was stipulated in her contract with RKO that Rosalind Russell portray her in the film. See more »

Goofs

Although mostly set in Australia with primarily Australian characters none of the cast make any attempt to speak in anything other than their own native accent. 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 rmax304823See 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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