“The Island of Lost Souls” (1933)
Watch this one with your favorite geneticist. In remakes, it’s called “The Island of Dr. Moreau,” the name of the book this movie was adapted from. Charles Laughton—the quintessential Quasimodo—creates beings that are half man/half beast, with the help of Bela Lugosi (sans pointy teeth and bats) and “the panther woman.” Her name is Lola. I think Dr. Moreau may have met her in a club down in old Soho. I guess you’ll have to drink champagne that tastes just like Coca-Cola with this one. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
“Le Roi de Coeur” (King of Hearts) (1966)
Many people consider this their favorite movie. Most of them went to college on the East Coast in the early 1980s and didn’t go home alone the night they saw this one. It involves some kind of operant conditioning. I just saw this movie again last week for the first time in 25 years, and I wasn’t disappointed. A Scottish ornithologist is taken for a bomb expert, and the denizens of a psychiatric hospital take over a small French town. It’s a love story and an anti-war movie. Watch this one with someone you love—or want to.
“The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” (1920)
My sister Roberta told me about this one, so I knew it would be freaky. The first horror movie ever made, it’s a silent film. One of my favorite things about this film is its expressionist sets. It’s a must see for film buffs, but not one to watch with the kids. If you want to see another of my sister’s horror picks, try “Dead Ringers” (1988)—it’s about twin homicidal gynecologists. Not for the faint of heart.
Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, Julia Roberts—yeah, that sounds like my medical school class. Actually, my class was more John Cleese, Marty Feldman, and Ruth Buzzi. In this film, medical students put themselves into cardiac arrest and then resuscitate one another at the last minute.
Still one of my favorites, and I loved the book even more. Anti-war, anti-bureaucracy, hilarious. Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould are excellent as Hawkeye and Trapper John, and Sally Kellerman is the best Hot Lips. This is somewhat different from the series and is worth watching.
There are so many other movies I have enjoyed. There are Gregory Peck in “Captain Newman, MD” and Robin Williams in “Awakenings.” I even like Patrick Swayze in “City of Joy.” Also worth mentioning: “And the Band Played On,” “Coma,” “The Cider House Rules,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” and “The Elephant Man.”
There are dozens more; some are great depictions of medicine, and some are total trash. Got a favorite I didn’t list? Send the name and a paragraph about why you like it to me at [email protected].
OK, I need to get out more. TH
Dr. Newman is the physician editor of The Hospitalist. He’s also consultant, Hospital Internal Medicine, and assistant professor of internal medicine and medical history, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn.