Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Dramas - Steve Q ""

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Favorite Underrated Dramas - Steve Q

Steve is an avid runner and movie fan extraordinaire. Read his musings about both at his blog:
Overwhelmed by possibilities for Underrated Comedies, I ended up limiting myself to comedy westerns made within one year. Underrated Dramas is even tougher! My first thought was limiting to docudramas, which sounded like "doctor dramas," which eventually led me to Lady Doctor Flicks. There were female physicians before there were films (the earliest film I can find with a female doctor was a short from 1912) and I thought it'd be interesting to compare depictions through time. These films are all just slightly better than average on their own.

Mary Stevens, M.D. (1933)
A wild pre-Hays Code film starring Kay Francis (and Lyle Talbot!) Here, it seems that there's a woman doctor just as an excuse for all kinds of medical crises involving babies.

Dr. Monica (1934)
Another Kay Francis film, much more melodramatic and less convoluted than the other. This appears to have been edited in anticipation of the Hays Code; it's ending wouldn't allow it to be released late in the year, when the code went into effect.

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
Jennifer Jones is an Eurasian (?!) doctor and William Holden his typical tough guy war reporter and the film is about mismatched lovers; it would be made into a romantic comedy today. It appears that the female lead is a doctor to increase the disparity between the lovers.

Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole (1972)
Susan Hayward's last film. She plays a doctor who can't deal with dying patients after her husband's death, but gets convinced to start over in a slum clinic with Darren McGavin, with whom she spars constantly as she rebuilds her life. A decent TV film that illustrates the time's ambivalence toward working women.

The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel (1979)
Lindsay Wagner in one of her countless TV films, plays a 1930's woman who "escapes" her rural upbringing by going to medical school, then "heroically" returns to them to help, only to be antagonized by the local backwoods medicine woman.

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (1992)
Strong pilot film for the long-running Jane Seymour TV series. Manages to make the rather forced feminism work by setting it in the old west, where stereotyped attitudes seem more palatable.

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas (2005)
Three hanky weepie TV film, starring Christina Applegate and based on a James Patterson novel. Woman discovers the reasons for her husband's behavior in his first wife's diary to their son. That the first wife was a doctor is almost immaterial, suggesting that women as physicians has become accepted as commonplace.

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