2 June 2013 | SimonJack
Before "soaps," there were a few very good MD movies
Very few films were made before the 1970s with doctors and medicine as the main subjects. Hollywood had made the jump to sound movies in 1929, but the medical profession wasn't much in the public's eye – at least not in the realm of entertainment. Two films in the 1930s were mainly about doctors and medicine – "One Man's Journey," in 1933, and "Magnificent Obsession," in 1935. Both films had major stars of the time and were successes, but their plots were very serious. Film historians have said that Hollywood thought the public was too wary of somber subjects. People living through the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War II needed more light-hearted entertainment. Having fun helped take their minds off their troubles for a while. So, comedy, romance, mystery and musicals best fit the bill for the film industry at the time. But, with the end of WW II, movie interests began to expand.
One of the very first films focused on doctors and medicine was this 1949 MGM movie, "The Doctor and the Girl." It may have piqued the interest in other quarters for more such stories. A British film, "White Corridors," came out in 1951, and in 1954, a remake of "Magnificent Obsession" scored another box office hit. Interest in medical heroes and plots continued to grow. A 1961 movie, "The Young Doctors," had a huge cast. That same year, the first popular daytime TV medical drama (aka, soap opera) aired. "Dr. Kildare" ran through 1966. In 1962, "General Hospital" premiered. In 2013, the Guinness Book of World Records lists it as the longest-running American soap, and it's still going strong. Only two other TV series have gone longer, but both are now off the air. By the 1970s, the medical field began to emerge as a major sub-genre for films and TV programs. Shows ranged from drama to comedy, romance to crime and mystery, war to sci-fi, and even horror scripts.
With new TV programs and films about doctors and medicine today, the very earliest movies still stand out for their excellent stories and performances by top casts. "The Doctor and the Girl" is such a film. The plot may seem to be so familiar today, but it wasn't at the time. Indeed, it was a leader in showing conflict between "high brow" medicine and that practiced for common folks. The performances by the stars are outstanding – Glenn Ford, Janet Leigh, Charles Coburn, Gloria De Haven, Bruce Bennett, and Basil Ruysdael. This is a movie worthy of any film library.