Simon Sparrow (Dirk Bogarde) is at a turning-point in his life: he’s starting medical school at St. Swithin’s Hospital of London. Despite a few small misunderstandings Simon’s med school career gets off to a decent start… until he gets kicked out of the house where he’s rooming, when the landlady’s daughter (Shirley Eaton) takes a liking to him!
The housing issue is eventually resolved, but with somewhat less-favorable results. He’ll be rooming with three fellow students who don’t exactly have stellar reputations as academics. Richard Grimsdyke (Kenneth More), Tony Benskin (Donald Sinden) and Taffy Evans (Donald Houston) become Simon’s new “best buds” when he’s forced to move in with them.
Doctor in the House continues to follow Simon and his rowdy roommates throughout their five years as med students, which involve plenty of your typical college-aged escapades (drinking too much, dating too many women) as they also struggle to navigate the sea of regulations and authoritative figures that govern their schooling.
Winning top box office numbers in Britain in 1954, Doctor in the House spawned six sequels (some with Dirk Bogarde reprising his role, and others starring Leslie Phillips). This first installment was directed by Ralph Thomas and produced by legendary British box-office-hit maker Betty Box. It was nominated for four BAFTA awards and took home one of the four, for Kenneth More’s performance.
Doctor in the House is a highly enjoyable comedy. Many of the laughs are situational, stemming from the mishaps faced by Bogarde and company, but the dialogue is also fantastic.
The mood of the film is lively and upbeat, the characters fun to watch. The personalities of the four men followed by the story all complement each other, and even in the 21st century ring true as realistic portrayals of college students. You’ve got Simon, a dedicated but unlucky student; Richard, the slacker who would rather fail so he can keep the college stipend his grandma will keep giving him until he graduates; Tony, the womanizer; and Taffy, the athlete of the bunch. I could walk through my school’s campus tomorrow and find 20 cliques of male students that look identical to this one.
Doctor in the House is definitely worthy of a watch. It’s a very pleasant, light, entertaining film with realistic performances and charming characters. I enjoyed it a lot and will be tracking down the sequels, or at the very least those that star Bogarde. The score: 4/5