6.8/10
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Village by the River (1958)

Dorp aan de rivier (original title)
An independent-thinking doctor in a rural community with his own ideas of how medicine should be practiced begins to find himself ostracized from the community after one of his patients commits suicide.

Director:

Fons Rademakers

Writers:

Hugo Claus (writer & dialogue), Antoon Coolen (novel) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Max Croiset Max Croiset ... Dr. Van Taeke
Mary Dresselhuys Mary Dresselhuys ... Mrs. Van Taeke
Bernard Droog Bernard Droog ... Cis den Dove
Jan Retèl Jan Retèl ... Thijs van Erpen
Jan Teulings Jan Teulings ... Burgemeester
Jan Lemaire Sr. Jan Lemaire Sr. ... Willem
Hans Kaart Hans Kaart ... Sjef
Dick Swidde Dick Swidde ... Nooteboom
Herman Bouber Herman Bouber ... Nardje
Tamara Garcia Tamara Garcia ... Zigeunerin
Huib Orizand Huib Orizand ... Pie
Frits Butzelaar Frits Butzelaar
Louis van Gasteren Sr. Louis van Gasteren Sr. ... Oom Jan
Lou Geels Lou Geels ... Agent
Frans 't Hoen Frans 't Hoen ... Dirk Jan
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Storyline

An independent-thinking doctor in a rural community with his own ideas of how medicine should be practiced begins to find himself ostracized from the community after one of his patients commits suicide.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For this film, Fons Rademakers became the first Dutch filmmaker to be nominated for an Academy Award. See more »

User Reviews

 
DOCTOR IN THE VILLAGE (Fons Rademekers, 1958) ***
22 February 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Fons Rademakers is the first Dutch film-maker to make an international name for himself, specifically with the film under review, his directorial debut, which was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award; for the record, the Oscar was eventually won by the colourful but overrated French film BLACK ORPHEUS when it was competing against Bernhard Wicki's THE BRIDGE and Mario Monicelli's THE GREAT WAR (all released in 1959) – both of which I will be watching before this month is out. The other contender was an obscure Danish children's film entitled BOY FROM TWO WORLDS and the film also competed at the Berlin Film Festival where Claude Chabrol's THE COUSINS emerged the overall winner. Incidentally, other films unsuccessfully submitted for Oscar consideration were Luis Bunuel's NAZARIN, Kon Ichikawa's FIRES ON THE PLAIN and Satyajit Ray's as-yet-unwatched THE WORLD OF APU! For the record, Rademakers would eventually win the Oscar for THE ASSAULT (1986; which I also own but have yet to watch, most probably in a future Oscar season) and I am only familiar with an odd but effective thriller, BECAUSE OF THE CATS (1973; co-starring Sylvia Kristel) from his filmography. Having said that, Rademakers (who was also an actor, writer and producer) was featured most memorably as John Karlen's "Mother" in Harry Kümel's stunning vampire classic DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (1971).

Anyway, to get back to the film proper: the first I have heard of it was back in my childhood days while leafing through the second edition (dating from 1977) of Leslie Halliwell's Film Guide. While he only rated it a * star movie and was not particularly complementary to it, the sheer fact that he mentions the film therein was enough for me to seek it out when I had the chance. To paraphrase, it is described as a tragicomic Pagnol-esque farce that slips into parody: in hindsight, it is nowhere near as melodramatic or even enjoyable as that caption would seem to suggest...but neither is it as light and irreverent as the British DOCTOR and CARRY ON comedy series. Indeed the deliberate pacing of the narrative and the pictorial elements of the country setting is something wholly and typically Dutch; there are only a handful of major characters (the eccentric titular character, the cheeky but slightly deaf narrator and the pompous burgomaster) and, in most respects, they are pleasantly essayed. Incidentally, the title of the film actually translates to VILLAGE ON THE RIVER (which is displayed on the copy I watched) and it was accompanied by a feature-length documentary on Rademakers which I had to presently jettison due to time constraints. Apparently, the doctor character was the hero of a series of books but this was the only one of them to make it to the screen.

There only remains for me to point out some of the more memorable incidents depicted in the film: an expectant father is driven to distraction by the doctor's reluctance to interrupt his breakfasting and follow him hurriedly to his labouring wife's bedside – indeed, when he does go, he goes back again soon after to pick up his newspaper for it was still too early for his intervention; a group of men discuss the discovery of a hanging body in the belfry and decide that the man's wife had nagged him to death – at one point, one of the party challenges the other to a feat of bravery and, as a result, the hidden visage of the town's old crow (possibly disfigured by a sexually-transmitted disease) is soon uncovered (albeit offscreen); the doctor's eldest son is congratulated for his scientific prowess in building a bomb that, on exploding, destroys all the windows of the nearby houses and the town's plumbing; the doctor's wife dies and, although he buries her in his garden, he still conducts a public burial at the local cemetery; at one point, the perennially jailed narrator (who lives in a boathouse and is the doctor's confidante) is seduced by a buxom gypsy who leaves the next day and, later on, he literally hides inside the toilet in a shed acting as a public convenience but gives himself up when one of the pursuing cops goes to make his daily duties; at a public ceremony, the doctor humiliates the burgomaster by burning the envelope containing the sum of money which they have given him in recognition of his services to the community (but which was actually meant to buy his retirement), after which he promptly quits the ungrateful town anyway.


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Details

Country:

Netherlands

Language:

Dutch

Release Date:

19 August 1958 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Doctor in the Village See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

NLG420,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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