Men in White (1934)

  • Here’s the summary of this movie, as provided by my TV’s show listing:

“A doctor committed to the art of healing begins an affair with a passionate and kind-hearted nurse despite being engaged to a social-climbing woman.”

Gasp. Does this sound like my kind of movie, or what?!

I am pumped.

  • The movie begins with a construction worker accidentally falling off a high structure & breaking both legs. The actor who does the falling does a tremendously poor job doing so – it’s very poorly telegraphed.
  • Broken Legs Joe is brought to St. George’s Hospital, where Clark Gable works. Sadly, before Dr. Gable can save him…Broken Legs Joe dies.
  • Meanwhile, an older doctor named McCabe (Henry B. Walthall) lectures a room full of younger doctors on how their predecessors sweated & gave their life’s blood to provide them with tools like anesthesia & x-ray machines.

…Cool. Good talk sir. (?)

  • Jean Hersholt plays Ferguson (Gable)’s mentor, Dr. Hochberg.
  • Ferguson is engaged to Laura (Myrna Loy) – the daughter of one of the hospital’s main benefactors, Mr. Hudson (Berton Churchill).
  • Laura seems way too obsessed with Ferguson, describing him as her “career,” and saying how she wishes she had spent every second of every day of her entire life with him. Scale it back, dear! Jesus!
  • They’re not even married yet, and Laura is already upset that Ferguson is spending too much time doctoring. This will never work out, honey – he’s still just an intern! Wait ’til he’s really put in charge of things!
  • Dr. George (that’s Ferguson’s first name) intervenes in another doctor’s case (Dr. Cunningham, played by C. Henry Gordon), and in doing so, saves a girl’s life. The nurse that assists him in this, Barbara (Elizabeth Allan), is clearly infatuated with Dr. George. She does a lot of staring at him, vaguely beaming, looking at him like he’s emitting some sort of regal glow. It’s weird.
  • When one of his patients doesn’t need surgery after all, George excitedly calls Laura to tell her that he can actually go out with her that night! But Laura’s just like, ‘Screw you, George – I’ve made other plans.’ (Rude!)
  • This movie is pretty poorly written – most of the dialogue feels practiced & overly stiff.
  • Barbara comes to borrow Dr. George’s notes for an exam she’s taking soon – and George kisses her after she makes an overly dramatic speech about living in the now – and how the present moments are all we have to cherish.

(To me, it’s a very eye-roll inducing set of lines, and Allan delivers them quite poorly. I’m not buying the Barbara/George romance so far – she seems like too much of a wispy romantic…like – her character lacks the proper substance to really spark the desire of Dr. George.)

  • Wait, what? Suddenly, George & Laura are officially married? (I feel like we skipped a couple steps…but…okay, whatever.)
  • Meanwhile, the hospital is struggling financially, & they want to give Dr. Ferguson an associateship at the hospital, in exchange for a large monetary donation from his new father-in-law.
  • Dr. Hochberg is like, ‘No! Dr. Ferguson will never accept a higher-paying, desk-ish job over a position in which he can do more doctoring! He values his healthcare morals too much!’
  • Wait, what? They aren’t married?

Apparently what we saw was just a rehearsal. This movie is jumping around too much. I’m getting confused.

  • We’re 45 minutes in, and I feel like nothing of real worth has happened yet. I gotta admit – I’m a little bored.
  • Dr. Hochberg: Laura, you deserve to be spanked. Don’t you realize what that boy’s work means?

Laura: Of course I do.

Hochie: No. No, you don’t.

(Laura explained to Dr. Hochberg that she & George would like to actually spend some time together…and then Dr. H is like, ‘NOT ALLOWED. MEDICINE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR LOVE, LAURA!!!’)

  • (I mean – I started off saying that Laura was a bit too into her relationship with George – but I also feel like Dr. H is being a little too extreme in his reaction to George getting someone to cover a shift so that he could attend his aforementioned wedding rehearsal. Like…just because you never do anything besides walking the hospital halls, searching for a medical challenge, Dr. H – doesn’t mean everyone wants the same life.)
  • Suddenly, Barbara has some malady “worse than a ruptured appendix” (???) and needs emergency surgery.
  • Dr. H is gonna perform the operation, and thinks it’ll be a great idea to have Laura suit up & observe the surgery up close, so she finally learns how important George’s time at the hospital is. (Eye roll.)
  • Great news – Barbara’s makeup is perfect, as she’s wheeled into the operating room on a stretcher. As everyone knows, lip gloss is a necessary part of every emergency surgery!
  • Right before she’s given anesthesia, Barbara breathily says “George – I don’t care…I…loved you.”

I am really not enjoying this movie now, you guys. Nurse Barbara barely knows George! He kissed her one time, and probably hasn’t seen her since. Her melodramatically announcing her love for him is a ridiculous plot development. How unbelievably absurd.

  • With Dr. H & George out for a post-surgery dinner, the movie gets even more ridiculous.

George: When she gets out, I’m gonna marry her, if she’ll have me.

Dr. H: Stop talking like an idiot – pull yourself together.

(My sentiments, exactly, Dr. H. Thank you.)

  • Wait, what?! I think all of this is because Barbara is/was PREGNANT with George’s lovechild, and tried to get a back-alley abortion. ???!!!! This film did a terrible job of indicating that George & Barbara slept together the night of the kiss. Like…I had zero idea that anything else had occurred. After they kissed, they showed George leaving the room, almost immediately. Somehow, we were all supposed to ascertain that he eventually came back, found that Barbara was still there, and proceeded to sleep with her.

?!?!

This is just stupid.

  • Now George is like, ‘Laura, I only love you!’ And she’s like, ‘No, you definitely don’t, because you secretly impregnated another woman.’ And George is like, ‘No, I’m seriously not in love with her – I just need to marry her because I’m a martyr.’

‘PS – I only screwed her because it was the night you wouldn’t hang out with me.’

  • (When will this end? This is the dumbest!)
  • Dr. H tells Laura ‘Don’t worry – Barbara doesn’t stand a chance – she’s going to die soon.’ (They’ve done everything they can to save her, but it’s no use!)
  • Christ almighty. Now Barbara the Wisp has called “Ms. Hudson” to her bedside to give her a sorrowfully wispy death speech. Unbelievably, this keeps getting worse.
  • “He’s going to be a great doctor, Ms. Hudson,” Barbara says through tears. “He needs you!”

Blehhh.

  • Okay, great. She died. Let’s move on, and end this film ASAP.
  • In conclusion: Laura forgives George, & they will probably carry on with their marriage plans soon – and George will continue to work with Dr. H, and have little to no time on his hands. Excellent. (I guess.)
  • This was a bad one, you guys. Even Gable & Loy couldn’t ultimately make this watchable.
  • I’m so glad it’s over!
  • Poorly, poorly written – which made any fine acting performances impossible – though really, even a good script couldn’t have saved Elizabeth Allan’s work in this. She was not good – made even worse by the writing.
  • Skip this one, y’all – it’s just not worth it.
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