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It may seem strange to review a movie originally released more than 75 years ago, even as re-presented in the form of an ‘archive collection’ DVD. However, a film seen perhaps for the first time long after its original cinematic release by a contemporary audience with wholly different standards, expectations and values is not really the same film at all; and while the gender politics, uncritical attitude to medicine and the mainstream Hollywood production values of Men in White may now seem very dated, for viewers with a medical humanities interest the passage of time can yield fresh perspectives not readily available to the film's original audience.
Men in White, a full-on hospital melodrama adapted from a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Sidney Kingsley and starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy, is a classic Hollywood Golden Age movie in which, perhaps not altogether intentionally, medicine—or more precisely, the professional calling of medicine—takes centre stage and is even allowed to call time on the two co-stars' decidedly on–off romance. Under the benevolent but demanding guidance of his mentor Dr Hochberg (Jean Hersholt), Dr George Ferguson (Clark Gable), a brilliant young surgeon at St. George's Hospital, New York, devotes himself to saving the lives of his patients and to …
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.