Captain Newman, M.D.

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"It speaks to you in the language of love, laughter and tears!..."
  • Passed
  • 1963
  • 2 hr 6 min
  • 6.9  (2,866)

Captain Newman, M.D. is a 1963 American comedy-drama film directed by David Miller and starring Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, and Angie Dickinson. The movie is set in a psychiatric ward during World War II, where Captain Josiah Newman (Peck) is in charge of a group of soldiers suffering from psychiatric disorders. Captain Newman is a psychiatrist and a decorated neurosurgeon who has been running the psychiatric ward at a US Army Air Forces hospital for two years. He is a compassionate and dedicated physician who uses unconventional, empathic methods to treat his patients. Newman takes pride in his work and is committed to ensuring that his patients are properly cared for and rehabilitated.

One of the patients in Newman's care is Corporal Jim Tompkins (Curtis), a charming and irrepressible con artist, who has been faking psychiatric illness to avoid being sent back to the front lines. Tompkins grand schemes include trying to trade his way out of the ward with contraband trading and trying to trick the devious Sergeant Kincaid (Bobby Darin) into receiving a Section 8 discharge by convincing him that he is gay.

Newman has to contend with stern Colonel Norval Algate Bliss (Eddie Albert), who sees psychiatry as a "fringe science." Colonel Bliss is more entrenched in the military's traditional approach to finding excuses to discharge any soldier who displayed anything other than perfect mental wellness to the front lines. He doesn't like Newman's caring attitude towards the patients and wants to replace him with another psychiatrist, Major Lee (James Gregory).

Newman's job stability isn't the only challenge he has to face in the film. He also has a complicated relationship with nurse Lieutenant Francie Corum (Dickinson), who is in love with him but unwilling to reveal her feelings due to his past romantic involvement with a patient.

Captain Newman, M.D. is an entertaining mix of comedy and drama. It finds comedy in the tense and absurd situations that arise in the high-pressure environment of a psychiatric ward, but also addresses a serious, important topic in military psychiatry. It raises issues of the stigmatizing of mental illness, the psychological effects of combat, the military's treatment of soldiers and how, even in times of war, psychiatry has an essential role in the well-being of veterans after their service.

The performances of the lead actors in Captain Newman, M.D. are noteworthy. Gregory Peck delivers a nuanced performance as Dr. Newman, balancing his caring nature with his frustration at the army's bureaucratic mindset of dealing with soldiers' mental health issues. Tony Curtis is excellent as Corporal Tompkins, displaying his quick-talking, street-smart charm, and his ability to parley gambling skills and contraband into cash for black-market goods. Angie Dickinson is charming as Francie Corum, delicately displaying the conflicted feelings towards Newman.

The movie's critical reception was generally positive, with the movie acknowledged for its historical importance in revealing to the public the brutality of war trauma upon the soldiers. Many critics praised the performances by the actors and the unorthodox approach to handling conflict and mental illness as comedic despite the weighty subject.

In conclusion, Captain Newman, M.D. is an engaging, enjoyable and poignant film that highlights the importance of psychiatric care in the military. It's an entertaining and thought-provoking movie that balances drama and comedy well, with superb performances from the lead actors. It's a touching representation of the struggles of soldiers in wartime, and the sometimes misunderstood field of psychiatry's critical role in supporting their mental health.

Captain Newman, M.D.
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 6 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (2,866)