Add a Review

  • For some inexplicable reason, Warner Bros. took Sinclair Lewis's acclaimed novel Main Street and gave it one of the most inane titles in screen history. The film is nonetheless a fine adaptation of the novel, telling the story of a sophisticated woman from the city at odds with the conventional values in a small American town.

    Class act Josephine Hutchinson is perfectly cast as the discontented wife, and Ross Alexander is outstanding as the malcontent with artistic sensibilities who falls for the married Hutchinson. (Alexander's career was tragically cut short when he committed suicide in 1937. Ronald Reagan was allegedly chosen by Warner Bros. to replace Alexander, but in terms of talent, there's no comparison.) Pat O'Brian underplays the role of the doctor admirably, but he is still somewhat miscast, as he comes across as more sensitive than the at-times obtuse character depicted in the novel.

    Well photographed, the film only disappoints with its cop-out ending, which tends to negate the quality of the rest of the film. However, if you think of the film's title as Main Street rather than I Married a Doctor, you should appreciate this unjustly neglected gem from the '30s.
  • This is a watered down version of Sinclair Lewis's 1920's angry screed "Main Street" with an especially inane title- I Married a Doctor.The town is the villain in the novel. However, in the movie,Lewis's point is blunted, almost as if not to offend the moviegoers who might be denizens of small towns like the one described. Even the name of the town has been prettified. In the book the town is called Gophers Prairie- here it is called benignly-Williamsburgh.

    The most important character change is the small town doctor. Dr. Will Kennicot, in the book, is a stolid, dense man who never seems to understand his wife Carol who is sinking under the weight of the hypocrisy and vapidity of small town life. In the movie, Pat O Brian plays the Doctor, very well , I might add, and he is a sensible hero who says- the town isn't the problem-it's human nature that's the problem.Lewis doesn't much agree. Carol is a bit of an idiot in the book, but Lewis's sympathies are clearly with her.

    Casey Robinson is the credited screenwriter and as usual he does a good job with his dialogue, much of which sounds natural and human. The movie is fairly well directed and the story, what little there is moves along. However, Lewis dark vision of American life would not be accurately portrayed on the screen until 1960's Elmer Gantry.
  • Despite its inane title, this is a strong little movie. Pat O'Brien is excellent, as are the supporting players.

    I am a sucker for movies about the joys of country living. Two that come to mind are "Mother Carry's Chickens" and "The Get-Away." Yet, there is a reason I live in Manhattan and not in a small town, which I did as a teenager.

    This is the story of a sophisticated woman who tries to be liked by the townspeople where well loved doctor O'Brien practices. It is an uphill battle. The woman are envious and catty. The men are staunchly unwelcoming.

    She is drawn to the son of a prosperous farmer, the artistic Erik (Ross Alexander.) Though her interest is only in helping him attain his artistic goals, tongues start wagging. (This despite the fact that neither seems interested in members of the opposite sex, he most noticeably.) Even Doc O'Brien doubts her fidelity and she leaves, Alexander having been rather quickly disposed of in a car accident of which she is unaware.

    O'Brien is enormously likable here; so coming back to him does make sense. Coming back to this horrid little town, which she does at the very end, however, does not. There is no reason to think she will be made to feel any more welcome than before her departure.
  • Good: a rock-solid, mug-free performance by Pat O'Brien, whose acting shines through many interludes of silence. Playing the doctor of the title trying to love his wife into some semblance of compatibility, he is the peerless star of this show; now I wonder why so many other screenwriters were anxious to stuff wordy, windy dialogue into his mouth in his other movies. Tantalizing: the lively-to-edgy supporting performance of Ross Alexander, a lost (to suicide) wonder of the '30s screen. A ringer for the young James Woods and a breezy screen presence, he's got the invincible ease that old-movie hounds like myself tend to think John Garfield invented. Watch this film and decide for yourself. Trite: Conformity is so stifling! Truly artistic people just can't be themselves in a small town! Well, not if they stay as angry as the misfits in this movie. O'Brien's morally grounded, subtle understanding of his character and all the others makes this movie better than average: 7/10.
  • Physician Pat O'Brien brings his new bride, Josephine Hutchinson to his hometown of Williamsburg somewhere in red state America where he's built his practice. Josephine's sophistication is a bad fit for Williamsburg and she gets the tail-feathers of the town's leading ladies all in an uproar.

    She has one kindred spirit in Ross Alexander who's the son of a Swedish farmer. But Ross aspires to bigger and better things, as an artist or an architect. Ross mistakes Josephine's support of him for romance and that sets the stage for a whole lot of gossip, misunderstanding and ultimately, tragedy.

    The problem with this picture is that it can't make up its mind. Small town America is shown with all the warts it has, but the people who don't like it have plenty of warts too. Ross Alexander is a weak character, he's a dreamer who just won't get off his rear end and leave. He'd rather just dream and he really gets off on being the misunderstood genius.

    Not wanting to offend anybody, Warner Brothers solves the problem with a 100% guaranteed solution of love conquers all.

    It's a very typical B film from Warners, probably played the second half of double bills with a lot of better product from that studio.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I think the real problem with this movie is nothing to do with how faithful it was to the novel. After all, a book is one genre. A film quite a different genre. The problem was the year it was made -- 1936. It's hard to believe watching this film that glorious 1939 was just around the corner...with "GWTH" and so many other classics. This film seems so much older than that, even though it's only a difference of 3 years.

    But I give this film...old as it seems...its due. The real star here is Josephine Hutchinson, who brilliantly plays the big city girl who marries a small-town doctor and thinks his small town will be delightful. The first place I noticed her was in "Cass Timberlane", starring Spencer Tracy. She was a wonderful, and all too overlooked actress.

    Pat O'Brien was a decent actor, not a great one, and he does nicely here as the doctor.

    I had never noticed Ross Alexander before watching this film. SO I have just learned about the tragic life of the young actor...who seemed to have real potential. He's very interesting here as a young man who doesn't fit in a small town...perhaps just as he didn't fit in real life.

    The remainder of the actors and actresses do their parts well, though none stand out. Interesting is the small role toward the end of the film of George Hayes -- Gabby, as we know him! As to the plot, it shows both sides of life in a small town. I grew up in such a small town, albeit 20 years after this film was made, and thinking back, I saw both of those sides. The kind of town where friends take care of each other. And the kind of town where those who are just a little different are the outsiders...always. This film conveys that harshness very well.

    I give this movie fairly high marks. Worth watching for its simpler, though not always warm ways.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    marc (beautyboy@aol.com) was right--Hollywood seemed to miss the main point of the Sinclair Lewis novel. In the film, a new doctor's wife (Josephine Hutchinson) arrives in the small town where he was raised and immediately rubs the women in the town wrong--mostly because this wife is pushy and seems to intimate again and again that the town was backward and needed many changes immediately upon arriving. While she is well-meaning, she is also unwise and obnoxious. In the novel, the opposite is mostly true. While the new wife is more 'city-fied', she is not the pushy and overbearing lady AND the point of the novel is how narrow-minded and insular the townspeople were. In other words, instead of attacking the wife, Lewis' intent was to lampoon the self-important folks of small town America! In fact, some were greatly offended by Lewis' implications--and with the sanitized film, no one could possibly be offended...and that's a shame, as all attempts at satire are muted at best.

    Also quite sad about the film is Pat O'Brien. Though a fine and usually larger than life actor, here he is a milquetoast fellow who seems strangely quiet throughout the film. As a result, you find him just pathetic! So, you have a leading character who is despicable and a town that is justifiably angry at her--how much more wrong could you have gotten the Lewis tale?!? It is entertaining and well made, but castrated in every sense.