Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Bedside Manner (1945)

BEDSIDE MANNER, also known as HER FAVORITE PATIENT, is a pleasant small-town romantic comedy about a doctor (Ruth Hussey) and a test pilot (John Carroll).

Dr. Hedy Fredericks (Hussey) is driving to a new medical research job in Chicago which she hopes will give her a respite from unpredictable doctor's hours. Along the way she stops off to visit her "Uncle Doc" (Charlie Ruggles), an overworked small-town physician who is plotting to keep Hedy in town as his partner.

Hedy becomes involved with test pilot Morgan Hale (Carroll), a trio of soldiers named Smith (Frank Jenks, John James, and Joel McGinnis), and Morgan's jealous girlfriend Lola (Ann Rutherford). Morgan falls for Hedy and soon joins her uncle's plot to keep her in town.

This United Artists release has low-budget production values -- for instance, characters converse inside a doorway while back projection cars and pedestrians go by -- but the congenial cast does a good job with the slight material. The intelligent Hussey elevates the film with her snappy line delivery, and she also looks great in a nice wardrobe, one of the film's only concessions to production quality. Carroll is an adequate if not especially memorable leading man. Rutherford is both beautiful and amusing, and Ruggles is always a solid performer.

The cast also includes terrific Esther Dale as Ruggles' nurse, Grant Mitchell as Carroll's boss, Bert Roach and Vera Marsh as Carroll's friends, and Claudia Drake as a Soviet soldier.

Ruth Hussey and John Carroll had previously been teamed in MGM's PIERRE OF THE PLAINS (1942). Fans of Ruth Hussey will enjoy visiting her official website, which is maintained by her family and has lovely photos. She passed away in 2005.

The film was directed by Andrew L. Stone (A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER). It runs 78 minutes.

BEDSIDE MANNER has been released on DVD under its reissue title, HER FAVORITE PATIENT.

The DVD print from Alpha Video, which specializes in public domain films, is of fairly poor quality, although the picture improves after the first few minutes and is watchable throughout. The soundtrack occasionally has static but for the most part the dialogue is clear. It would certainly be nice to see the film in better condition, but given the choice between the Alpha DVD and not being able to view the film at all, the DVD is an acceptable option.


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