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

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Michael Craig sports a gal's seal of approval

DOCTOR IN LOVE (1960). Director: Ralph Thomas.

"You're the least incompetent of this cretinous bunch in the slaughterhouse."

After falling for a nurse named Florence Nightingale (Moria Redmond) who disappears, Dr. Richard Hare (Michael Craig) and buddy Tony Burke (Leslie Phillips) leave the confines of St. Swithin's Hospital and the grumpy Sir Lancelot Spratt (James Robertson Justice) and look for greener pastures. First they participate as test subjects in clinical studies of the common cold, but get thrown out when they fool around with two drunken strippers. Then Hare winds up working with the established Dr. Cardew (Nicholas Phipps, who also wrote the screenplay), but has to hire a doctor assistant when Cardew goes off for a few weeks to America. Dr. Nicola Barrington (Virginia Maskell) takes over for Burke after the latter breaks his arm. Richard and Nicola fall in love, but there are still a few pitfalls to overcome. For this installment of the British "doctor" series, Michael Craig takes over from Dirk Bogarde, who usually played the lead in these things as "Simon Sparrow," but Craig is not playing the same role. Craig is no Cary Grant, but he's not bad in the part. James Robertson Justice is sort of the poor man's Monte Woolly, but he has his moments; Redmond and Maskell are attractive and competent. Some of the supporting players almost steal the show: Reginald Beckwith as Wildwood, Cardew's butler; Ambrosine Phillpotts as Lady Spratt; Ronnie Stevens as Harold, who's finally reached puberty at age 28; Carole Lesley as the adorable "Kitten" Strudwick whom the lucky Harold snares; and Fenella Fielding as the bosomy Mrs. Tadwich who has palpitations, especially when the handsome Hare is examining her. A sequence in which Hare tries to get a new serum to save a little boy's life is melodramatic and unconvincing, as is the scene when Nicola spots a lipstick print on Richard's face and reacts as if she found him in bed with a boy! [The fact that she gets so jealous over a mere thank-you kiss doesn't portend well for the marriage.] Whatever its flaws, the movie is often quite amusing and in general good-natured [with a few tasteless lapses]. Craig made Mysterious Island the following year. Maskell was with Peter Sellers in Only Two Can Play and Moria Redmond appeared in A Shot in the Dark. Fielding was the voice of the loudspeaker on the TV show The Prisoner and is currently on the series Skins. Phillpotts was in A Room at the Top and Berserk with Joan Crawford. Phillips is a very busy actor up until today. Perhaps the funniest thing about the movie is that the young doctors are named Burke and Hare after the grave robbers!

Verdict: Amiable silliness with an attractive cast and some very good performances. ***.

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