The Citadel (1938)

110-112 mins | Drama | 29 October 1938

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HISTORY

An onscreen prologue reads: "This motion picture is a story of individual characterizations and is in no way intended as a reflection on the great medical profession which has done so much towards beating back those forces of nature that retard the physical progress of the human race." According to information contained in the file on the film in the BFI Library, the film was released in Great Britain on 6 Mar 1939 with a length of 9,970 ft. and a running time of 111 min. Among the differences between the original A. J. Cronin novel and the film, two are significant: first, in the book "Christine Manson" is killed after being hit by a car, whereas in the film, it is "Denny" who is hit by a car; second, in the book the bungled operation is performed on one of "Andrew's" lower-class patients, but in the film the bungled operation causes the death of "Denny." Modern sources note that the novel contained some autobiographical aspects of Cronin's life. Cronin was a Scottish-born physician who practiced medicine in a mining town in Wales, then moved to London and established himself as a prominent physician before beginning his successful writing career.
       The Citadel was the second M-G-M-British production. According to a HR news item on 10 Feb 1938, English actress Elizabeth Allan was cast as the female lead. A FD news item on 31 Mar 1938 noted that because Margaret Sullavan was replacing Rosalind Russell in the lead of The Shopworn Angel (see below), that Russell was now available to appear in The Citadel . ... More Less

An onscreen prologue reads: "This motion picture is a story of individual characterizations and is in no way intended as a reflection on the great medical profession which has done so much towards beating back those forces of nature that retard the physical progress of the human race." According to information contained in the file on the film in the BFI Library, the film was released in Great Britain on 6 Mar 1939 with a length of 9,970 ft. and a running time of 111 min. Among the differences between the original A. J. Cronin novel and the film, two are significant: first, in the book "Christine Manson" is killed after being hit by a car, whereas in the film, it is "Denny" who is hit by a car; second, in the book the bungled operation is performed on one of "Andrew's" lower-class patients, but in the film the bungled operation causes the death of "Denny." Modern sources note that the novel contained some autobiographical aspects of Cronin's life. Cronin was a Scottish-born physician who practiced medicine in a mining town in Wales, then moved to London and established himself as a prominent physician before beginning his successful writing career.
       The Citadel was the second M-G-M-British production. According to a HR news item on 10 Feb 1938, English actress Elizabeth Allan was cast as the female lead. A FD news item on 31 Mar 1938 noted that because Margaret Sullavan was replacing Rosalind Russell in the lead of The Shopworn Angel (see below), that Russell was now available to appear in The Citadel . A 30 Apr 1938 HR news item announced that Allan was suing M-G-M-British for breach of contract after she was removed from the picture. Allan had been under contract to M-G-M for three years when she decided to leave the United States and return to her native England. According to a news item in HR on 9 Jan 1937, when Allan left M-G-M the studio agreed to have her "on call" for two films a year. This may have been the basis of her suit, about which no additional information been located.
       Robert Donat was borrowed from Alexander Korda for his role in the film, and by terms of the agreement between Korda and M-G-M, the film was shot at Denham Studios instead of Pinewood, which was initially to be the production site. According to another HR news item, Frederick Y. Smith, a former English film editor, was to be the only technician going from Hollywood to England for the film, but only Charles Frend is credited as film editor in other contemporary sources, and Smith's participation in the picture has not been confirmed. A MPD news item includes actor Eliot Makeham in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Russell was the only American actor to be sent to England for the picture.
       According to informaion in the Howard Dietz Collection at the AMPAS Library The Citadel cost $1,012 and grossed $2,598,000. The picture was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for King Vidor, Best Screenplay for Ian Dalrymple, Elizabeth Hill and Frank Wead. The National Board of Review named the film Best Picture, Donat Best Actor, and Ralph Richardson Best Supporting Actor; NYT named the picture one of the Ten Best of the Year; and FDYB named the picture number eight on its list of the Ten Best Pictures of 1938. Other adaptations of the Cronin novel include a 1950 television drama and a 1983 two-part BBC television drama, starring Ben Cross. The BBC drama, which was broadcast over Public Television in the United States, adhered more faithfully to the original novel than previous productions. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Oct 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 Mar 38
p. 9.
Film Daily
25 Oct 38
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 37
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 38
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Aug 38
p. 4.
Motion Picture Daily
25 Oct 38
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
29 Oct 38
p. 42, 44
New York Times
4 Nov 38
p. 27.
Variety
26 Oct 38
p. 13
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A King Vidor Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
Rec dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Press rep
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Citadel by A. J. Cronin (London, 1937).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 October 1938
Production Date:
began 4 June 1938 at Denham Studios, England
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 October 1938
Copyright Number:
LP8384
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
110-112
Length(in feet):
10,104
Length(in reels):
11
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
4591
SYNOPSIS

Scotsman Andrew Manson, an idealistic young physician, comes to the Welsh mining of Blaenely to work as an apprentice to Dr. Page. Life is hard in the town, and even Andrew must put up with adverse conditions when his employer's penurious wife forces him to work for a pittance and live in a small room. After Andrew saves the life of an apparently still-born baby, he becomes popular with the miners and their families. He also becomes close to Dr. Denny, a brilliant, but cynical physician who drinks heavily. When a typhoid epidemic breaks out in the town, Denny suggests that they blow up the foul sewage system to force the mine owners to build a new one, and Andrew assists him. Meanwhile, Denny has met Christine Barlow, the school mistress, and is attracted to her, but cannot approach her romantically. When Andrew hears about Aberalaw, a neighboring town that needs a new physician, but will only accept married men, however, he proposes to Chris. She accepts and both soon realize that they are in love. At their new home, Andrew begins research into the study of Black Lung Disease, an ailment that afflicts the miners. Andrew publishes his findings, which impresses the medical establishment, but disturb the people in Aberalaw who distrust his research and wantonly destroy his laboratory. Disillusioned by this reaction, Andrew decides to go to London to set up a practice in a poor part of London. Despite Chris's encouragement, Andrew soon becomes despondent over his lack of patients. One day, when Andrew is alone at his surgery, a shopgirl summons him to a fashionable ... +


Scotsman Andrew Manson, an idealistic young physician, comes to the Welsh mining of Blaenely to work as an apprentice to Dr. Page. Life is hard in the town, and even Andrew must put up with adverse conditions when his employer's penurious wife forces him to work for a pittance and live in a small room. After Andrew saves the life of an apparently still-born baby, he becomes popular with the miners and their families. He also becomes close to Dr. Denny, a brilliant, but cynical physician who drinks heavily. When a typhoid epidemic breaks out in the town, Denny suggests that they blow up the foul sewage system to force the mine owners to build a new one, and Andrew assists him. Meanwhile, Denny has met Christine Barlow, the school mistress, and is attracted to her, but cannot approach her romantically. When Andrew hears about Aberalaw, a neighboring town that needs a new physician, but will only accept married men, however, he proposes to Chris. She accepts and both soon realize that they are in love. At their new home, Andrew begins research into the study of Black Lung Disease, an ailment that afflicts the miners. Andrew publishes his findings, which impresses the medical establishment, but disturb the people in Aberalaw who distrust his research and wantonly destroy his laboratory. Disillusioned by this reaction, Andrew decides to go to London to set up a practice in a poor part of London. Despite Chris's encouragement, Andrew soon becomes despondent over his lack of patients. One day, when Andrew is alone at his surgery, a shopgirl summons him to a fashionable dress shop where a wealthy young woman named Toppy Leroy seems to be having a seizure. Andrew slaps Toppy after he realizes that she is just hysterical, and scolds her for being pampered and spoiled. Toppy is attracted to Andrew and soon introduces him to her wealthy friends. By a chance meeting, he runs into Dr. Lawford, an old schoolmate of his, and Lawford suggests that Andrew join him in a fashionable practice. Soon Andrew is making a fortune treating rich patients who have little need of anything more than a pleasant bedside manner. He also begins to see Toppy, and Chris, who does not want all of the luxuries that Andrew can now afford to give her, becomes estranged from him. Even Denny, who comes to ask Andrew to work with him again, becomes disenchanted with the changed Andrew. Though he has been sober for some time, Denny gets drunk and tells Andrew what he thinks of him, then goes into the street, where he is hit by a car. Andrew then takes Denny to the hospital and asks one of the society surgeons he knows, Charles Every to operate to save his friend's life. Andrew assists at the operation and, though the procedure should be relatively simple, Every botches the operation and Denny dies. Andrew now begins to see the sham of his exclusive practice and realizes how he has changed. A short time later, Andrew learns that Anna Orlando, the young daughter of an old friend who owns a delicatessan, is ill with tuberculosis and has not been given the proper treatment at a London hospital. By happenstance, Andrew has recently become acquainted with Richard Stillman, an American who specializes in tuberculosis. Not a licensed physician, Stillman has earned the love and respect of his patients, but the ire of the medical establishment. Andrew takes Anna out of the hospital and has her moved to Stillman's clinic, where she is cured after undergoing treatment to collapse one of her lungs. Because of this, Andrew is threatened with the revoking of his license to practice medicine. At a tribunal before a medical review board, Andrew makes a plea to his fellow physicians to accept new ideas such as Stillman's, but the physicians are reluctant. As Andrew and Chris leave the hearing, they look toward the future together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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