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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Interns (1962)

A year in the life of a group of interns at a county hospital in a major city. Based on the novel by Richard Frede and directed by David Swift (THE PARENT TRAP). This medical soap opera was quite daring for its time in dealing with such provocative issues as abortion, euthanasia, substance abuse and the emergence of women as doctors. But in the ensuing years, countless television programs from DR. KILDARE and BEN CASEY through GRAY'S ANATOMY and PRIVATE PRACTICE have minimized its effectiveness as drama and today it plays like several TV episodes strung together from a standard medical TV melodrama. The film seems to want to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand, it shows the prejudice toward female doctors by the patriarchal medical establishment yet it asks one of its characters, a nurse (Stefanie Powers) to give up her dreams to become a housewife and mother. Still, it remains an effective melodrama with several powerful moments. The B&W cinematography is by the great Russell Metty and the subtle score by Leith Stevens. The film was a big enough hit to spawn a sequel two years later, THE NEW INTERNS. The large cast includes Cliff Robertson, James MacArthur, Telly Savalas, Suzy Parker, Nick Adams, Michael Callan, Buddy Ebsen, Anne Helm, Connie Gilchrist, Angela Clarke, Katharine Bard and Haya Harareet (BEN-HUR).

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