Do you love drama and suspense? Sure, we all do. But as doctors, you see grief, pain & distress in the consultation room, you go through trial & tribulations in the operation theatre, you feel a sense of accomplishment on successfully curing patients, and you experience unparalleled joy as you reverently deal with patients who think you are next to God.
That’s a lot of emotions in one profession, and what better to experience these than on the big screen. Here are five great movies with doctors in the lead, and you will surely feel that each movie tells the story of an experience you have had at least once in your career.
William Hurt, who plays Dr. Jack McKee, stars in this 1991 film of a California heart surgeon. Dr McKee is emotionless towards everyone, even his family, and to him patients are nothing more than just a number in the waiting room. Everything is hunky-dory until the doctor is pronounced with throat cancer. Now, the doctor becomes a patient and must go through the perils of the medical system and face the cruelty of his very colleagues. The Doctor is based on the memoirs of surgeon Ed Rosenbaum. (Amazon link)
Malcolm Sayer, played by Robin Williams, is a neurologist who has discovered the benefits of the L-Dopa drug in ‘awakening’ patients with encephalitis lethargica. He administers the drug it to his patients who fell victim to the encephalitis epidemic in the 1920s, especially Leonard Lowe (played by Robert de Niro) who has awakened for the first time since he was a child. However, this awakening does not last long and patients soon being to relapse. This 1990 movie was also based on a true story and nominated for 3 Oscars.
Something the Lord Made
HBO has many great movie series, and their 2004 Something the Lord Made touched the hearts of many. This tale goes back to the 1930s when African American janitor Vivien Thomas, played by Mos Def, collaborates with Dr. Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman), the white chief surgeon at Johns Hopkins University. The unlikely two paved the path of modern day heart surgery by surgically treating the Tetralogy of Fallot (‘blue baby syndrome’). Resisting the prevalent black-white segregation and the Hopkins administrators’ protests, the janitor Thomas coached the surgeon Blalock as he performed the first blue baby surgery. This film was nominated for 9 Emmys and 2 Golden Globes.
Article 99 is a 1992 movie that goes ‘behind the scenes’, to reveal just what doctors will actually do to have their patients happy and healthy again. Kiefer Sutherland stars as Dr. Peter Morgan, who is interning at the Veteran’s Administration hospital, and expects to start his private practice soon. At the run-down VA hospital, Dr. Morgan discovers a complex bureaucratic system that values politics more than patients’ health. He meets Dr. Richard Sturgess (Ray Liotta) and they team up to defy the management’s orders, conduct clandestine operations and save lives.
Breaking box-office records worldwide, this 1998 film is Robin Williams’ second appearance as a doctor. It is based on the true story of Dr. Hunter Adams, a physician who believed in laughter being the best medicine, and using unconventional ways to treat difficult patients. Beginning with a young Adams voluntarily checking himself into a mental asylum, to studying medicine where he ‘brings down the house’ with his unorthodox ways, this is a witty and quirky movie with the late Robin Williams at his best.
So there you have it. A few tear jerkers and a few movies that will help laugh and ease your pain after a long, troublesome day. Are there any other movies with doctors in the lead that we’ve missed? Which one is your favourite?