Sunday, September 20, 2020

Her Favourite Patient (1945)

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Hedy Fredericks is a doctor going back to her hometown for a few days, making a few new friends along the way. She helps out her uncle at his practice till things are less busier, but she's eager to leave as soon as possible. Things get complicated when a man Hedy kept mistaking for a childhood friend now finds himself determined to keep her here to romance...

Her Favourite Patient (also known as Bedside Manner) is an entertaining rom-com. Hedy is a fun and intelligent lead to follow through these various shenanigans, dramas, and romantic entanglements. She's got spunk, and carries the movie very well! The movie is quite funny, with plenty of amusing dialogue, neat characters, and [amusing] touches, like how she refers to Uncle Doc.

The plot is cheesy, but effective, and never makes any serious missteps. We've got a pretty traditional romance, made up of a duo who can't stand each-other, naturally. We actually get plenty of time for the two lovebirds to get to know each-other before the romance begins, which I partially credit the movie for! Only partially because of how it turns out (more on that below). The climax is inevitable, in the way you look forward to.

If it's guilty of anything, it's trying to do a bit too much, or perhaps just not balancing everything correctly. We've got this doctor back in her hometown, helping her uncle and new friends, recognising old schoolmates, and having a romance to boot! And that's just her character! Not that the others have reams of story or anything, but it all adds up. To the point where the titular engagement, the main thrust of the film, doesn't begin until the 45 minute mark! Morgan doesn't even become Hedy's patient until very nearly the last act!

The movie also feels a little rushed at times, which seems like a symptom of the above problem. With not enough time to have set up a romance, Morgan goes from having spent half the movie cold and hostile towards Hedy to having a sudden infatuation, strong enough for him to race after her at a 100 miles an hour and fake injuries after a car accident in the process!

Her Favourite Patient has quite an extensive cast. First and foremost is Hedy, who's likeable and intelligent! You really beleive she's a doctor, and this is always in play. She even shows medical smarts after Morgan's supposed head injury! Morgan is a fun guy, just trying to get it on with his date and this strange woman keeps messing it up by mistaking him for someone else. Though his behaviour is a little rushed here and there. The three Smith's are a fun addition, and appear more than Morgan does for the first half of the movie! They're not the deepest or richest of characters, but I liked them, and was sad to see them leave/go before the movie was over. I guess the writer new he needed to jettison someone to finally focus on the plot.

Hedy's uncle is a fun presence, always trying some plan or another to get her to stay, and sweep away his tide of patients. It is a little weird and perhaps creepy that he is so obsessed with getting his niece to stay in this dullsvillle town, and by guiding her to bang her patient at that/to boot, but it's never a big deal.

Stella is an amusing dame, sarcastic, but likeable, and her story gets a nice cap-off. Briefly appearing Russian pilot Tanya Punchinskaya is adorable, and I wished she'd got more to do! Lastly, there is Lola and George, who were...people? I was a little unsure who they were. They kinda melted among the sea of names and faces, not helped by everyone looking the same. I'm quite frankly unsure if I even got some of these names right! And I haven't even mentioned all the characters yet!

Something I like about the movie is how it's not only about a female doctor, but it never makes a big thing about it. No-one groans, gives a side eye, or complains about women. We also see a female soldier from Russia, and likewise there are no cracks about ovaries making her a poor pilot or anything. Nor any Russia bashing either! I guess because this was the height of the war, when Russia was a firm ally in the war. It was this same reason that The Drums of Fu Manchu never got a sequel, because Hollywood wanted to keep on China's good side, and worried a serial with a Chinese supervillain might upset them.

 I like the touch that Hedy does actually know deep down the diagnosis is barmy, because she wants to, as the movie says. It adds further credence to her intelligence

The actors here all do fine jobs. No bad performances, and while they should've stressed about getting different hairstylists or wardrobes, everyone manages to entertain, with Ruth Hussey, Charles Ruggles, and Claudia Drake being highlights.

Her Favourite Patient is a fun time! A bit cluttered, and it beats around the bus for longer than it should, but it's still more than worth a watch.

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