The Doctor's Dilemma (film)

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The Doctor's Dilemma
"The Doctor's Dilemma" (1958).jpg
U.S. theatrical poster
Directed by Anthony Asquith
Produced by Anatole de Grunwald
Written by Anatole de Grunwald
Based on play by George Bernard Shaw
Starring Leslie Caron
Dirk Bogarde
Alastair Sim
Robert Morley
Terence Alexander
Music by Joseph Kosma
Cinematography Robert Krasker
Edited by Gordon Hales
Distributed by MGM
Release date
Running time
99 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $576,000[1]
Box office $725,000[1]

The Doctor's Dilemma is a 1958 British drama film directed by Anthony Asquith and starring Leslie Caron, Dirk Bogarde, Alastair Sim, and Robert Morley. It is based on the 1906 play The Doctor's Dilemma by George Bernard Shaw.[2] A satire on the pretensions of the medical profession and their concentration on treating patients who can pay well, it contrasts their world of imperfect science, always bumping up against unknowns, with the boundless spheres of love and beauty.


In London in 1906, colleagues rush round to the Harley Street house of the unmarried Dr Ridgeon to congratuate him on being awarded a knighthood for his claim that he can cure tuberculosis (though in reality at that time there was no certain cure). Among them is Dr Blenkinsop, who was at medical school with him, but now looks after poor patients who cannot afford to pay much, and is himself infected with TB. Waiting in his hall is the young and lovely Jennifer Dubedat who, having heard of his alleged cure, wants him to treat her husband Louis, a penniless artist. Struck by the beauty and charm of Jennifer, and by the quality of her husband's drawings which she shows him, he lets her believe he will try to save Louis, but stresses that his treatment is long and expensive, and that he can only handle ten patients at a time. So that he can meet Louis, and see more of Jennifer, he invites the two to a celebration dinner he is hosting that night.

While Louis is like his wife good-looking and charming, it emerges that he scorns all trappings of conventional morality, being a feckless liar, thief and seducer (a waitress recognises him as her vanished husband). Now highly doubtful about Louis, Ridgeon arranges with colleagues to visit the studio where he lives and assess his case. Recognising that his TB is far advanced, Ridgeon passes him on to a colleague and decides to take Blenkinsop instead. To Jennifer this is treachery and she begins to hate Ridgeon, while he hopes that he might marry her as soon as she is a widow. Beyond cure, Louis soon dies and in a moving last speech states his belief that love and beauty surpass all of conventional morality. He also begs Jennifer not to mourn, but to marry again and be happy.

In a postscript, Ridgeon attends the one-man exhibition of Louis' works, which are selling well. Jennifer refuses to let him buy a painting and leaves with her new husband.


Gabriel Pascal announced in 1946 he would make the film for Alexander Korda and starring Deborah Kerr.[3] However it was not made.

Anatole de Grunwald and Anthony Asquith had been developing a film about T.E. Lawrence to star Dirk Bogarde which was cancelled at the last minute. This film was offered to Bogarde as an alternative.[4]


The film was a success in the US, but not Britain. Bogarde later theorised this may have been due to the fact audiences were annoyed to discover the film was not one of the "Doctor" film series.[4]

But according to MGM records, the film only earned $275,000 in the US and Canada, and $450,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $299,000.[1]



  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study
  2. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | The DOCTOR'S DILEMMA (1958)". 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
  3. ^ BUSY DAYS IN LONDON: Film Studios Move Into High Gear, With Full Schedule of Pictures Under Way Films Coming Up In Father's Footsteps Notes in Brief By C.A. LEJEUNE. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 25 Aug 1946: 51.
  4. ^ a b Margarita Landazuri, 'The Doctor's Dilemma', Turner Classic Movies accessed 26 June 2012

External links

  • The Doctor's Dilemma on IMDb
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