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The Flame Within

(1935 b 72')

En: 5 Ed: 6

A psychiatrist helps a couple recover from a suicide attempt and alcoholism and then has to deal with her own personal involvement.

At a costume ball Dr. Jock Frazier (Henry Stephenson) sends Dr. Mary White (Ann Harding) to a fortune teller he has primed about her and Dr. Gordon Phillips (Herbert Marshall), who leaves to treat an attempted suicide. Later Gordon calls on Mary and says he doesn't want to wait anymore; but she won't give up her career in psychiatry, which she calls a religion. Gordon asks rich Linda Belton (Maureen O'Sullivan), who left a note saying "cremation," to see Mary White. Linda talks on the phone to Jack Kerry and cries. Linda visits Mary and tries to jump out the window, but Mary stops her. Linda says that Jack drinks and doesn't care. Gordon doesn't like Mary seeing Jack. At Mary's Jack Kerry (Louis Hayward) fixes a drink and says he wants to help Linda but not be helped by her money. Mary comes home to find Jack asleep on her couch. She sends him away for a three-week cure for drinking.

Four months later Gordon and Mary go to get Jack. Gordon finds him on a binge. Mary comes in, and Jack cries. Several months later Jack shows Jock, Mary, and Gordon his air-chair invention. Linda comes in and tries Jack's seat; they have agreed to marry. Mary tells Linda to take Jack seriously; Linda believes in Mary and is happy. Jack and Linda say good-bye to Mary and thank her. Mary finds a dog that Jack gave her.

Jack and Linda return married, and at a ball Jack is glad to see Mary; but Linda wants to forget her. Jack tells Mary he is not happy and dances with her. Gordon and Jock wait up for Mary, who comes in late. Gordon asks Mary what is wrong, and she says, "Marry me." Jack comes to Mary in the night and tells her that he hit Linda. Jack tells Mary that he worships her and that she is his strength. Mary says that Linda depends on him as he thinks he depends on Mary and that he must protect Linda. Linda comes in with a witness and accuses Mary of stealing Jack from her, threatening a scandal. Gordon comes in as Linda leaves. Mary tells Jack that she is engaged to Gordon.

The next day Gordon asks Mary if she is infected by Jack. She says she prayed for Jack and found herself loving him. Jack comes in and tells Gordon he loves Mary. Linda comes in and apologizes to Mary. Linda and Jack thank Mary and leave. Gordon and Mary go back to normal as Jock comes in. Mary says that she is not going on with her work and puts her head on Gordon's shoulder.

This drama explores the transference of a patient's affection to the doctor, while little is done to help Linda's emotional dependency. Gordon patriarchally expects Mary to give up her career when she marries him.

Copyright © 2000 by Sanderson Beck

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