The Doctor and the Girl
The Doctor and the Girl (also known as Bodies and Souls) is a 1949 American drama film directed by Curtis Bernhardt and starring Glenn Ford and Janet Leigh that was inspired by the French novel Corps et Âmes by Maxence Van der Meersch.
|The Doctor and the Girl|
|Directed by||Curtis Bernhardt|
|Screenplay by||Theodore Reeves|
|Based on||Corps et Âmes|
by Maxence Van der Meersch
|Produced by||Pandro S. Berman|
|Cinematography||Robert H. Planck|
|Edited by||Ferris Webster|
|Music by||Rudolph G. Kopp|
Michael Corday comes from a family of physicians, and upon completing his own medical degree, he moves back to New York City and starts an internship at Bellevue Hospital, with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Once in the city, Michael starts criticizing his sister Mariette's fiancé George Esmond of marrying because he wants to be part of their distinguished and renowned family. At the hospital he is criticized himself for his lack of compassion towards his patients by his older and more experienced colleague, Dr. Granville, in the emergency room. (Later, Granville makes Michael tell a couple their daughter has died during a tonsillectomy, so that he can experience the consequences of their unavoidable failures.)
Michael rather caustically admits a poor young woman named Evelyn who needs surgery for a lung abscess--due to poor health, she needs to spend several weeks at the hospital prior to undergoing the procedure. She works in a candy store, on the taffy machine, and he takes to calling her Taffy. He is gruff with her at first, but comes to see her more and more often--she reminds him that each patient is a human being with hopes and fears. Before long Michael falls in love with Taffy, much to his father's dismay.
Fabienne, who is Michael's youngest sister, leaves the family home to live alone in the Greenwich Village. Michael's father uses his connections to get Taffy out of the hospital without Michael's knowledge. When Michael confronts his father, he gives Michael her address, asking only that he think seriously about the ramifications--he will be cut off from his family's money and connections if he marries her, at a time when he is just starting his career.
He finds Taffy in a working class apartment building by the elevated tracks of the IRT Third Avenue Line. He tells her of his feelings, and they get married at city hall--his father refuses to attend, but his mother and sisters quickly grow to love Taffy. Together they open up a medical practice in the building--Taffy figures out how to turn the vacant apartment next to them into an office, and works alongside him. They quickly create a thriving practice. Michael is bothered that he is not learning the kind of medicine his father wanted for him, but at the same time is learning how to be a compassionate thoughtful physician, whose patients trust and like him. He is both less and more of a doctor than his father intended.
Misfortune lands on the family and Michael's father falls ill. Mariette puts her wedding plans on hold to nurse her father. One night Fabienne turns up at Michael's doorstep, sick after having an illegal abortion. She has lost too much blood and dies shortly after, partly because Michael's father insisted a family friend perform the operation, and he's too personally involved. In their shared grief, Michael and his father finally rebond, and in spite of having the chance to return to his residency, Michael chooses to continue his private practice, because his patients are individuals to him now, and he cannot abandon them.
|Glenn Ford||Dr. Michael Corday|
|Charles Coburn||Dr. John Corday|
|Bruce Bennett||Dr. Norton|
|Janet Leigh||Evelyn Heldon|
|Basil Ruysdael||Dr. Garard|
|Nancy Davis||Mariette Esmond|
|Arthur Franz||Dr. Kenmore|
Prior to The Doctor and the Girl, American films avoided discussion of abortion, which was illegal in most states. MGM convinced the Motion Picture Association of America, which enforced the Hays Code, that the topic of abortion, which was not explicitly forbidden by the Code, could be tastefully addressed in the film. While the film vaguely referred to the procedure as "an illegal operation," the precedent allowed later films to include abortion plotlines.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- TCM entry for film
- Kirby, David A. (September 2017). "Regulating cinematic stories about reproduction: pregnancy, childbirth, abortion and movie censorship in the US, 1930–1958". British Journal for the History of Science. Cambridge University Press / British Society for the History of Science. 50 (3): 451–472. doi:10.1017/S0007087417000814. ISSN 0007-0874. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
- "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59.