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DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (director: Ralph Thomas; screenwriters: based on the novel by Richard Gordon/Richard Gordon/Nicholas Phipps; cinematographer: Ernest Steward; editor: Gerald Thomas; music: Bruce Montgomery; cast: Dirk Bogarde (Simon Sparrow), Muriel Pavlow (Joy Gibson), Kenneth More (Richard Grimsdyke), Donald Sinden (Benskin), Kay Kendall (Isobel), James Robertson Justice (Lancelot Spratt), Donald Houston (Taffy), Suzanne Cloutier (Stella), George Coulouris (Briggs), Joan Sims (Rigor Mortis), Shirley Eaton (Milly Groaker), Joan Hickson (Mrs Groaker), Mona Washbourne (Midwifery Sister); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Betty E. Box; MGM; 1954-UK)
“Slight comedy based on the antics of a group of naughty Brit medical students at a London hospital.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Slight comedy based on the antics of a group of naughty Brit medical students at a London hospital, who try to balance their partying with their studying. It’s based on the novel by Richard Gordon, and is cowritten by Gordon and Nicholas Phipps. Richard Gordon is a pseudonym for British physician Gordon Ostlere, who quit medicine to completely focus on writing (wrote 13 of these doctor books). This was the first and best film in the Doctor series based on the Gordon books, which produced five more sequels until 1970 (Doctor at Large, Doctor in Love, Doctor in Distress, Doctor in Clover, Doctor in Trouble), and also inspired a series of seven TV sitcoms and initiated a British sub-genre of film comedy known as the ‘hospital farce.’ It’s noteworthy as the film where the sexy Dirk Bogarde reached stardom. The best one can say about director Ralph Thomas (“The Clouded Yellow”/”Above us the Waves””/”Percy”), the older brother of editor Gerald who later on would direct the even less sophisticated “Carry On” series, is that he does his best to keep rigor mortis from setting in.

The comedy centers on a group of four medical students enrolled in the five-year program at St. Swithins Teaching Hospital: the wide-eyed newcomer Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) is the main protagonist and he hooks up with three fun loving returnees who previously failed– the cocky but lazy student Grimsdyke (Kenneth More), the skirt chaser Benskin (Donald Sinden) and the rugby player Taffy (Donald Houston). Sparrow decides to room at the same boarding house as the bad boy trio and soon gets into a series of scrapes over women and sports with the boys despite his serious attempt to become a doctor. In the end, after some rough times with the stuffy Dean of the Medical School (Geoffrey Keen) and defended by the prickly head doctor of surgery, Sir Lancelot Sprat (James Robert Justice), Sparrow and Taffy pass while Benskin and Grimsdyke do not. Some tacky medical jokes are stripped bare to the bone. The leading ladies in this low-budget B film are Muriel Pavlow (the young nurse Bogarde loves), Suzanne Cloutier (engaged to More), and Kay Kendall (the wealthy older woman romanced by Bogarde), who all acquit themselves as well as can be expected in such a low-brow farce.

The crowd-pleasing Doctor in the House was the top British money-maker of the year and also did as well abroad.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”