...That is the Question

The Doctor's Dilemma - (1958) Directed by Anthony Asquith

Starring Leslie Caron, Dirk Bogarde, Alastair Sim, Robert Morley

As soon as you discover this film, as well George Bernard Shaw's play from which the film is adapted, indeed has an overzealous surgeon named Cut-ler, you are aware that the comedy is intentional. Between Cutler's scalpel and Sir Ralph Bloomfield-Bonington's obsession with "stimulating the phagocytes!" there lies a black comedy about the value of talent versus the value of character. Sir Colenso Ridgeon is the doctor asked to save and prioritize the life of an artist.

A doctor refuses to save the life of an artist based on his judgement of that artist's personal moral constitution. Of course in the place of that artist, the doctor chooses a colleague who is financially unsound, who treats very impoverished patients for free, many times without the accessibility to materials and equipment he cannot afford.

The doctor's decision is a noble one but there is also another reason why this decision is made. The artist is rather good, remarkably talented even, however of a scoundrel he is thought to be, there is no denying his skills as a painter. The artist is also young and if it weren't for the tuberculosis, a long future of celebrity and success awaits to meet him. The doctor is aware of this as well as the fact that the artist is also a liar, a thief, and practically an anarchist who makes a mockery of society, its establishments, and all their laws.

The doctor's mind would be easily made up if not for the artist's wife. Though not legally married, she very much loves her husband and cannot or does not see as the doctor does, the artist's manner as that, no more than of a deplorable lout. The doctor employs the notion that art's value increases with death, as does the artist's. This notion also preserves the memory of the artist as his wife currently regards him, that is with reverence and devotion. The doctor also hopes to marry the artist's wife after his death since the doctor has no doubt fallen in love with her; it is that love that keeps him from soiling her idolization for her husband, the artist. There is no telling in the film, whether the doctor could soil her admiration to the artist but it is the doctor's belief that he can. The doctor does not marry the artist's wife who hates him for not saving her husband's life.

Hopefully the doctor has learned a bit more about morality from his dilemma. Perhaps he notes, men are neither good or bad, nor their decisions. Choices are to be made to the best of one's capabilities and circumstances and the right choice is usually the fact that a choice has been decided upon with consideration and practicality. Morals are fixed ideas that change over time but until they do they are solid blocks of ready-made opinions and judgements. This is a very limited perspective with which to service the millions of people, all who possess in their heads, their very own individual institution of thought. None of us think exactly the same way, the print of our brain is as unique as the one found on a finger. The doctor may have discovered this as it is he who is now judged by the artist's wife the way he once judged the artist.

After watching the film, I immediately thought, did he make the right choice? I didn't have an answer. And that's just it, I don't think there is an answer to that. But I feel its definitely the question director, Anthony Asquith wanted us to ask ourselves.

Guilty Conscience - (1985) Directed David Greene

Starring Anthony Hopkins and Blythe Danner

This was a TV movie!

I still cannot get over that this was a TV movie. I am very near to adding this film to my list of favorite crime dramas, if I had such a list, of course. Anthony Hopkins is sharpened and intelligently sinister enough to make him the number one choice for Dr. Hannibal Lecter six years after this film was released. I'm not sure if Anthony Hopkins was in fact the first top choice for Lecter but this movie definitely couldn't have hurt the making of that decision.

The film's protagonist is a crime lawyer who, like the retail worker who understands the department store's security and takes advantage from within, understands the system he works for and decides to cheat it. This is the case for Arthur Jamison, the crime attorney who is conspiring the perfect murder of his wife. The murderer is conspiring throughout the entire film, thoroughly considering and analyzing different ways to go about it. The murderer is careful and with the help of the "guilty conscience," which is really (in the film) just logic projected as a prosecutor as the murderer takes the imaginary witness stand to defend an established alibi, the murderer tries each plot for strengths and weaknesses.

Examining a number of possibilities, including reasons as to why they'd fail, the murderer schemes. Finally the murder is committed and it is up to us, the viewers, to decide if the murder is perfect, how likely will suspicion be dismissed from its perpetuator?

The film is good for its story's intelligent delivery and the suspense--well cushioned by a subtle soundtrack and unpredictable sequences. I'm not sure about the color as I took no chances and set my television's color down to black and white.

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