Monday, February 25, 2008

Top 10 Doctor Movies

The lovely and talented SWIMBO convinced me to watch the Oscars last night. Sort of interesting, because the last time I watched, Daniel Day-Lewis won for Best Actor. Anyways, it got me to thinking --- with all of the "top ten" lists wandering around in cyberspace, there doesn't seem to be one for doctor movies. So, without further ado, here is The Aggravated DocSurg Top 10 list of movies about or otherwise concerning doctors:

10. Master and Commander -- Paul Bettany was cast well as the ship's physician in this well done movie which didn't get as much praise as I thought it deserved. There's a gruesome amputation scene and another where the surgeon must operate on himself --- that's enough to put it on the list in my book.

9. The Last King of Scotland -- This movie won Forest Whitaker an Oscar for Best Actor (deservedly), but James McAvoy's portrayal of a young, idealistic yet opportunistic personal physician to Idi Amin is superb.

8. The Hospital -- This movie does not hold up well, unless you are terminally trapped in an early '70s mindset, but George C. Scott's performance is magnificent. It's worth watching just to remember what a great actor he was.

7. The Andromeda Strain -- Written by a doctor (Michael Crichton), with a "medical" theme that is well done and certainly better than many of its imitators. While not as good, another sci-fi flick from the same era that merits mention is Fantastic Voyage --- if only for the fact that it has Raquel Welch prominently displayed in a wet suit.

6. Alien -- technically, since he's not human, I suppose Ian Holm's character "Ash" isn't a doctor, but he certainly is the ship's medical officer. Besides, it's a great depiction of parasitology -- so good, that one of my professors at the country's best medical school , an infectious disease specialist, used its now-familiar scene to introduce his lecture on parasites.

5. Malice -- This movie has over the top acting, a confusing plot at times, and one of my least favorite actors on the planet. It also contains the only scene in any movie that made SWIMBO almost cough up her popcorn --- when, in a ridiculously darkened OR, the nurses clap (CLAP!) after the surgeon finishes a difficult case. But it has a devilishly good streak of revenge, and one simply cannot go wrong spending two hours gazing at Nicole Kidman.

4. The Painted Veil -- I thoroughly enjoyed this movie; a bit of a tear jerker, to be sure, but a beautifully filmed story of love and loss, with the background of an English bacteriologist dealing with cholera in Shanghai. Great acting, beautiful scenery, and a good story.

3. M*A*S*H --- what, you think I'd leave off the list the most irreverent look at surgeons ever put on film? Great, if dated flick, with at times a pretty fair depiction of "surgical humor." And lines like these are classic:

Capt. Peterson: What are you two HOODLUMS doing in this hospital?
Hawkeye: Ma'am, we are surgeons and we are here to operate. We just waiting for a starting time. That's all.
Capt. Peterson: You can't even go near a patient until Col. Merrill says its ok and he's still out to lunch.
Trapper John: Look, mother, I want to go to work in one hour. We are the Pros from Dover and we figure to crack this kid's chest and get out to golf course before it gets dark. So you go find the gas-passer and you have him pre-medicate this patient. Then bring me the latest pictures on him. The ones we saw must be 48 hours old by now. Then call the kitchen and have them rustle us up some lunch.
[turns to Hakweye]
Trapper John: Ham and eggs will all right.
[turns back to Capt. Peterson]
Trapper John: Steak would be even better. And then give me at least ONE nurse who knows how to work in close without getting her tits in my way.
Try saying that in a hospital today! Somehow, I suspect you'd be on your way faster than you could say "incoming!"

2. The Doctor -- this movie had me sold on it in the first few minutes, as William Hurt waltzed from OR to OR, being serenaded by Jimmy Buffett on the stereo. Been there, done that. And, unquestionably, there are times I have been just as self-assured and arrogant as he was at the start of the movie. This is a great movie, IMHO, for every physician to see.

Now, of course, comes the moment you have been waiting for..... the Aggravated DocSurg's number one doctor movie:

1. Doctor Zhivago -- what!? Look, it's one of the top 10 movies ever made, in my opinion, and, well, he is a doctor! Plus, it has that most important "Aggravated DocSurg ingredient" -- Julie Christie! I grew up watching this movie every year on TV, and never tired of looking at her eyes.

So, what have we learned here? Not much, except that I fully admit I can't take my eyes off Julie Christie or Nicole Kidman. There is a simple reason for that:


(And I am a lucky man)

Any movies I missed? And, please, do not add Patch Adams to the list!