Captain Newman, M.D. Reviews
Fresh from coming off his Oscar-winning performance as Atticus Finch in one of the most outstanding films in history 'To Kill a Mockingbird', Gregory Peck plays the archetypal Captain Josiah Newman, the polar opposite of Nurse Ratchett, sympathetic, protective, gentle, and the man in charge of helping get traumatised soldiers back on their feet, specifically three, each played by Eddie Albert, Robert Duvall and singer Bobby Darin.
And in the midst of all this is the focusing of Newman's colleague Laibowitz, played by Tony Curtis, whose reputation in the film as the prankster entertaining the patients, those that are merely just there as background characters, dominates the comedic (if it can be called comedic) element of the film.
For a film like this, the drama is primarily essential and a use for comedy is unneccesary. On the positive side, elements included in this film feature an impressive performance by Darin as a traumatised soldier whose medicated re-enaction of the very accident that gets him in the unit in the first place stands out as arguably the most powerful sequence, a scene that does not allow Curtis to display any variation of over-acting and helps give a pained remider of the ways in which army traumisation is displayed.
Furthermore, in the most intriguing of the three scenarios, Albert impresses just as much with his performance as a disillusioned and guilty Colonel displaying the distressing sight of a hulking figure of a man being bought down by his demons with just as much ferocity and vulnerability as Darin's character.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the scenario revolving Duvall's character, having been reduced to a catatonic state after following a 13-month hideout in a basement in Germany. While the scenario sounds interesting, the storyline just does not seem to know where it's heading, and by the end it feels limited and unassuming especially when compared to the more engaging scenarios involving Darin and Albert.
Incidentally, the comedic value is just pointless. In one sequence, bringing in memories of Bunuel's 'The Exterminating Angel', a herd of sheep are seen on the runway just as a plane is about to land on the very runway, prompting a horrifically corny scene in which whilst trying to get the sheep away, Curtis speaks to the 'leader' of the sheep and speaks to it as if he was dishing orders out on a human civilian.
Another 'comedy' sequence involving the theft of a salami makes us wonder whether there is any need for comedy in the film, and Curtis's character just appears unneccesary and pointless to where the film is going, making us wish that the director just wrote out all the comedy and just focused on Newman and the patients.
A film like this should solely be focusing on drama not comedy, for example, the scenario involving sheep should not be in the same film as a scene in which Darin describes in spine-tingling detail his plane crash. If that was the case then John Cassavettes may have included a scene in which someone trips up a banana after Burt Lancaster's first meeting with the young autistic boy in 'A Child Is Waiting', a film that can be compared in terms of possessing the challenge of reaching out to those who cannot be easily reached out for.
In terms of drama, its intriguing elements and enjoyable performances from Peck, Albert and Darin save it from total disaster, but in terms of comedy, the scenarios, and Curtis in particular, fall flat like Michael Cimino trying out the western genre. Not a bad film but one that should have stuck with solely drama.
The thing that immediately caught my attention was the cast: Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson, Eddie Albert. Dick Sargenym and supporting roles by Bobby Darin and Robert Duvall. The cast alone makes this a hell of a picture.
It's not just the cast, though. There's a good story here. It's a nice little melodrama typical of the times filled with humor, romance, and sadness, but the cast holds it together. I was really happy with how they were able to blend the laughs with some of the more serious stuff and keep it from being too corny.
The cast are great, and so are their performances. Peck is in typical Peck mode, but that's just fine. Curtis is a real scene stealer, providing some of the best laugh moments, a lot of which are caused just because of goofy faces he makes. The real drama is brought by Darin, Albert, and Duvall who all have some terrific moments of real, moving acting.
This is just a nice good old fashioned film, but that's okay. I liked it. It's entertaining, yet it tries to do a little more.
A great mix of drama, humor and tragedy. Gregory Peck delivers a great performance as he always does and Tony Curtis provides excellent comic relief as the orderly that Peck shang-hi's into his ward who also has interesting medical opinions. Angie Dickinson as the nurse that Peck ends up recruiting to help him, also his love interest. And excellent performances by Eddie Albert as a
Xtra Special Holiday Treats...Tony Curtis...Bobby Darin...Larry Storch...and perhaps my first introduction to Robert Duvall.
This isn't a perfect movie by any means but it delivers on the laughs and at no point did I feel the story arch was being lost behind the occasional comic spot of Curtis. Peck isn't given much to work with in terms of character however he reveals his extraordinary ability to be convincing in reacting and observing the other patients. One of the better scenes is one where Bobby Darin is dreaming and explaining his problems to Peck and Dickinson in a hospital room.
This is a very well constructed war, drama-comedy and is full of strong players and performances. About as interesting as a military hospital film can be.