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  Doctor at Sea Cue Seamen Jokes
Year: 1955
Director: Ralph Thomas
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Brenda de Banzie, Brigitte Bardot, James Robertson Justice, Maurice Denham, Michael Medwin, Hubert Gregg, James Kenney, Raymond Huntley, Geoffrey Keen, George Coulouris, Noel Purcell, Jill Adams, Joan Sims, Cyril Chamberlain, Joan Hickson
Genre: Comedy, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Doctor Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) is fresh out of medical school and seeking to be part of a practice, but he is finding life out of college and in the big, bad world somewhat problematic as he has to lodge with a his fellow doctor's family and they seem over eager to have him married off to their daughter (Joan Sims). For this reason, he decides a change of scenery outside London is in order - well outside, as he signs up to be a ship's doctor. There are no women aboard, so no pressure from that angle, but he soon finds out things are not exactly easy here either, as first he must get his sea legs, and then there's the Captain (James Robertson Justice) to negotiate...

That's right, this was an entry in the Doctor series where Robertson Justice was not playing Sir Lancelot Spratt, but had been drafted in to play more or less the same function, only a seafaring version, everything else about his character was essentially identical, including the blustering, bad-tempered manner he set about the role. There were those who said he was not really called on to do much acting in these films, he was playing himself, but he stuck with them for a longer time than his co-star Bogarde did, despite the Dr Sparrow part being the one that made his name. Before long he had teamed up with Joseph Losey for considerably more arty fare, and never looked back.

However, while he tended to regard the Doctor series as something of an embarrassment he had to get through to reach his full potential elsewhere, they were extremely popular for one thing, and for another the shipboard one introduced him to Brigitte Bardot. She was one year away from superstardom in Roger Vadim's ...And God Created Woman, so was not quite the sensation she would become, yet you can pick up on her star quality here, her famed radiance not quite at its full blossom but getting there. She was already making waves by appearing nude in a shower scene, which publicity informed us was the first time any actress was naked on a British film set.

Being French, the British reaction was either, "Huh, what do you expect?" or "Tell me more, where is this film playing?!", yet either way it was clear Bardot was headed for a higher profile than she received here, which makes it interesting to go back to her nascent career and see where she was demonstrating her potential. Of course, you could observe she never achieved that, as she was "cursed", if you will, with her beauty so hardly anyone called upon her to be anything but decorative, and you could assuredly not detect any great talent for thespianism in the direct sequel to Doctor in the House. She said her lines, smiled, wore low-cut dresses and had the males in the cast ogling her, and did not appear in the slightest bit bothered to be the focus of that sort of attention.

Sadly, that attention eventually became unbearable, for a while at least, but she was easygoing enough in this undemanding job (she didn't even need to do her own singing). Elsewhere, the cast consisted of a collection of stalwarts of the kind that populated British comedy of the era, many a recognisable face you may or may not be able to put a name to. Maurice Denham was Sparrow's assistant, fond of the medicinal brandy, Michael Medwin sported a beard as the lecherous officer, Brenda de Banzie was the other woman on board, designed to get in Robertson Justice's way to his comical exasperation, and so on. All that was important was Dr Sparrow, stand in for the writer Richard Gordon, was the only sensible person in the film, for everyone else, save perhaps his love interest Bardot, was a weirdo, and we were intended to be on his side throughout. Not required to be anything other than terribly polite, Bogarde wasn't taxed by this, but proved affable. Music by Bruce Montgomery.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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