Movie Mirrors Index

Dr. Bull

(1933 b 77')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Based on a novel by James Gould Cozzens, a doctor's discerning kindness and relationship with a widow is misunderstood by gossip.

The town's busy Dr. Bull (Will Rogers) barely has time to sing in church and visit his widow friend Janet Cardmaker (Vera Allen). Soda jerk Larry (Andy Devine) often complains about a pain in his side except when he wants to dance with the girls. Although Dr. Verney says to send Joe to an institution, Dr. Bull keeps trying an experimental cure for his paralyzed legs. Bull prescribes for Janet's sick cow, and she invites him to dinner. Women, trying to call Dr. Bull for a sick woman, gossip about him. He delivers a baby for a large Italian family and is given wine. When the sick woman dies, he tells the women that in his experience people don't seem to mind dying, since they escape illness. They blame him for not coming sooner, but he says it was a question of stamina. If she was as fat as one of them, she might have made it; but she worked for a wealthy man and did not have enough "meat on her bones."

Dr. Bull warns Snider to keep his camp sanitary, as it was put near the town's water supply because Herbert Banning (Berton Churchill) insisted. While Bull is trying to rest, Larry complains about a bad dream he had with doctors treating him. Virginia Banning (Rochelle Hudson) refuses to see Dr. Verney and runs out of the house. She drinks from a flask and tells Bull she wants to be alone. When she drives her car into a fence, he treats her ankle and counsels her about her pregnancy by calling the football player she loves, pretending to be her father. She is soon married, but her mother complains she married a German.

Dr. Bull stays all night with a boy, who is better in the morning, and then he goes to the school. His Aunt Myrna believes Susie has typhoid. He takes a blood sample to Dr. Verney's lab and finds it is so. Dr. Bull tells people to boil the water and get inoculated. He vaccinates the school children. Banning holds a meeting to replace Bull as health officer, and Janet defends him, saying her brother Banning is at fault. Dr. Bull refuses to resign and challenges those accusing him before walking out. They vote to remove him. Dr. Bull finds a cure for Joe and celebrates at Janet's with her cider. He apologizes to her, but says he can't go there anymore. Larry comes in with a girl, whose brothers demand they be married. Dr. Bull calls a minister and gets himself married too.

This film is carried primarily by the wry humor and charm of Will Rogers and the liberal values he represents in the story, which criticizes petty backbiting and the selfish rich.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index