Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, January 4, 2008


THE CITADEL. (1938) Director: King Vidor.

A doctor tries to do the noble, idealistic thing and help his patients -- poor coal miners who have developed tuberculosis from dust in the mines, among others -- but when his efforts are angrily rejected (to put it mildly) he eventually settles for ministering to wealthy, neurotic hypochondriacs until a tragedy sets him back on course. A glossy, professional, well-acted, workmanlike effort that gets across the basic ideas of the original novel by A.J. Cronin, but to 21st century eyes presents a somewhat artificial elucidation of its theme. It ends on a rather abrupt note after an excellent closing speech by Donat. King Vidor's direction is solid, Donat is strong, Russell, fortunately, more subdued than usual -- it's all just a little pat and superficial. Still, there are some very well-handled scenes, such as when Donat saves a baby's life, and breezily and dismissively chit chats with a kindly restaurant owner who is trying desperately to interest him in the illness of her beloved daughter.
Verdict: Not great but not without interest. **1/2.

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