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Film / Mary Stevens, M.D.

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Mary Stevens, M.D. (1933) is a pre-code era drama starring Kay Francis, Lyle Talbot, and Glenda Farrell.

Mary (Francis) and Don (Talbot) have made it through childhood up until med school together. Mary is quite content with the hard but rewarding work while Don chafes at the mundane 9 to 5. Realizing that he wants comfort and ease, Don is whisked into a marriage with a socialite with a political father, not realizing Mary’s quiet crush and continual concern for his reckless behaviour.

Mary says enough and enough, and she cuts ties with Don, but a year passes and her love for him is far from faded. A chance encounter bubbles romance between them, but the consequences that follow will haunt Mary forever.


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  • The Alcoholic: Don is drunk. And not just any sort of drunk but 1930s drunk. So drunk that characters mention his drinking problem. It gets to a point that he can’t perform surgery and has Mary do it.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Don’s whirlwind romance with Lois (Thelma Todd) turns into indifference rather quickly.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Mary has been in love with Don since they were kids.
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: The film opens with an Italian man scared for his wife because a female doctor is going to deliver their child. To show Mary’s competence, in two minutes she has the baby out, clean as a whistle like it had never been in utero.
  • Death of a Child: Mary and Don’s son dies of polio.
  • Double Entendre: Glenda reliably shells out the double entendres for anyone who will listen.
  • Gold Digger: The ever-elusive male version.
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  • Good Doc, Bad Doc: She cares, she works hard, and she wants to help – Mary is a good doctor. He drinks, he doesn’t care, and he’s lost his moral compass – Don is a bad doctor.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Mary tells a patient that she will not help her get an abortion (not in those exact words but it’s obvious what’s she’s talking about). When Mary’s pregnant herself and finds out that Don won’t be able to divorce his wife as quickly as they thought, she decides against an abortion.
  • Interrupted Suicide: After the death of her young son, Mary’s grief is unquestionably deep. She’s so distraught that her mind has wandered to suicide. Left alone, she opens a window and is just about to jump when her doorman comes crashing in, crying for help for his choking son.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Mary is “walking on air” at the prospect of having Don’s baby even if she does have to keep it a secret from the general public.
  • Sassy Secretary: Glenda Farrell as the wisecracking Glenda Carroll. She always has a droll line waiting.
  • Stigmatic Pregnancy Euphemism: Mary is on a wonderful and long trip in Europe for her health and wellbeing…
  • Time Passes Montage: The calendar days fall as six months pass by.
  • Women Are Wiser: A very interesting case: the above doorman’s son is choking on a safety pin. Mary’s medical case was taken away, and she doesn’t have her instruments with her. She is at a loss of what to do until she runs her fingers through her hair, finds a bobby pin, and is able to take out the hazard. Mary muses over the idea of what a man would’ve done in her place.

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