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The Good Doctor (Broadway Theatre Archive)
The Good Doctor
Broadway Theatre Archive
Actors: Edward Asner, Richard Chamberlain, Bob Dishy, Gary Dontzig, Lee Grant
Director: Jack O'Brien
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2002     1hr 28min

Anton Chekhov's early short stories, which so eloquently capture the comic and serious sides of the 19th century Russian Bourgeoisie, were the source and inspiration for this hit by Neil Simon--one of the most prolific and...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Edward Asner, Richard Chamberlain, Bob Dishy, Gary Dontzig, Lee Grant
Director: Jack O'Brien
Creators: Barney Robinson, Jac Venza, Lindsay Law, Anton Chekhov, Neil Simon
Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Comedy, Drama, Television, Broadway Theatre Archive
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 06/11/2002
Original Release Date: 11/08/1978
Theatrical Release Date: 11/08/1978
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 1hr 28min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"The 'day-the-world's-gone-mad' has arrived, at last."
Mary Whipple | New England | 05/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The cream of the Broadway Theatre Archive, this production has it all--the stories of Anton Chekhov, Neil Simon to mold the stories into exquisitely timed and hilarious theatre, and a cast that is hard to duplicate. Starring Marsha Mason, who plays everything from a maid to a lady of the night; Ed Asner who is a terrific, blustering general; and Lee Grant, who ranges from a wily and assertive employer to a wild woman with a "nervous disorder," the production also includes Bob Dishy, who has an elastic face and expressive eyes, starring in "The Sneeze" and "The Seduction," and Gary Dontzig as the "Drowned Man" and a 19-year-old son about to be introduced to sex for the first time.

The seven Chekhov stories which become one-act plays here are filled with dry humor, surprise endings, and clever common people in confrontations with "superiors" which end in absurdity. "The Sneezer" cannot apologize enough to the general who is his boss at work, then believes that he himself has been humiliated. In "The Governess," an employer (Grant) tricks a subservient governess (Mason) out of 80% of her pay. "The Seduction" shows a man-about-town (Chamberlain) using a husband as the conduit for his seduction of the man's wife, a story with a twist at the end. "The Drowned Man" (Dontzig) claims to be in the "maritime entertainment business" and will "drown" for a small fee. "The Defenseless Creature" gives Grant her star turn, and she is hilarious as the clever wife who wants money from a banker (Chamberlain), threatening him with a curse if he refuses. In "The Arrangement" a father takes his shy, 19-year-old son to a house of ill repute, then realizes that the son will no longer be a boy.

The most stunning episode is "The Audition," and anyone interested in acting would do well to study Marsha Mason, who is magnificent here. Playing the parts of all three sisters from the conclusion of Chekhov's The Three Sisters, she is sensitive, bursts into tears on cue, then becomes rational and straightforward. As Mason convincingly plays the three different roles, one witnesses a truly great acting moment. Each of the scenes is beautifully produced and sensitively acted, and the viewer comes away from the production awed by Chekhov's writing, Simon's dramatic sense, and the ensemble cast's incredible talent. Mary Whipple
A humorous play, but heavy-handed acting
Israel Drazin | Boca Raton, Florida | 07/05/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Neil Simon wrote this play starring Richard Chamberlain, Ed Asner, Marsha Mason, and Lee Grant, which is made up of seven independent comic vignettes based on stories written by The Good Doctor, Anton Chekhov. Richard Chamberlain plays Chekhov and acts in most of the main parts. The stories include:

The Sneeze is about an employee who happens to sit behind his employer at a play, tries to impress him, but then accidently sneezes on his head. The employee is flabbergasted and, although the employer reacts in an understanding forgiving manner, goes overboard in trying to seek the employer's pardon. He behaves to his disadvantage.

The Seduction concerns a seducer who shows how to seduce another man's wife by having her husband tell her all the praises that he says about her.

In The Drowned Man, a man gets Chekhov to agree to pay to see him jump into the water and act as if he drowned. The man cannot swim.

The Arrangement is a tale where a father takes his nineteen year old son to a prostitute as a birthday present and bargains with the prostitute to get the best price. This is his son's first experience with sex.

The stories are clever and humorous, but Chamberlain seems to act as if he were in a Shakespeare play.

Good Performance DVD, skits missing, homage Anton Chekhov la
Phil Lee | Minneapolis, Minn, Silicon Tundra, USA | 06/04/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

""The Good Doctor (play 1973 Broadway archive, PBS TV78, DVD2002, 90min)" a classic comedy play adapted to stage and film; Anton Chekhov, writer; Jack O'Brian, director; Neil Simon (1927- , 46yrs), adaptation screenplay; Kultur#D2608,0-7697-9608-7,no special features,%25list.

An homage to Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, 19th Century Russian, world's most prolific short story (dare-I-say: pulp fiction) writer his era. Later, Chekhov writes 4 classical plays, directed Russian Stanislavsky's "Method" emotive acting technique, taught worldwide.

Classic produced many community, college, high school theatres dramas. Simon's "The Good Doctor" alternative billing Shakespearian Summer festivals. Short stories significant pedagogical value craft adapting short story to screenplay. "10-minute film" is essential admission requirement for Film school.

Act1Sc1 "Writer (prologue)" Simon introduces comic playwright Antosha Chekhonte, his early pseudonym (Richard Chamberlain). Chekhov, from poor merchant family, grew up southern Ukraine, near Black Sea, mouth Volga River. Attending Moscow Univ Medical School scholarship (1879-1884), needs money support bankrupt parents+five. Earns royalties writing short stories Moscow/StPetersburg newspaper humor columns magazines, becoming famous Russia at 25yrs over 500 Shorts. With brevity required publishers, only fraction translated English. Many are public domain, downloadable free from Gutenberg/GoogleBook projects.

For reference, DVD playtime stats and story length refer "The Good Doctor (1973)" 2-act play,11scenes,p391-471; in Neil Simon, "The Collected Plays of Neil Simon,Vol2," Plume/Penguin,1979(86),0-452-26358-1,737pgs,%22pbk. Nowhere are original Chekhov stories referenced by Simon; but Reviewer includes for film school aficionados after significant academic research.

Act1Sc2 "The Sneeze (0:04,14min,p395,10pgs)" Small-time city clerk (Bob Dishy) attends play when department head, General (Ed Asner), wife (Lee Grant) sits front Cherdyakov wife (Marsha Mason). He hopes make good impression boss for promotion reasons. He suddenly gives monumental sneeze, covering back boss's head with snot.

Ivan Ilyitch Cherdyakov, Asst Chief Clerk, Bureau Public Parks, Dept Trees & Bushes, idiotically, makes it "federal" case, even when bosses' boss, Gen'l Mikhail Brassilhov, Minister Public Parks, says forget it. Cherdyakov gets worked up, he dies.

Original short story: "The Death of a Government Clerk (1883,23yrs)," pXX-YY(3pgs), in APC, transl Constance Garnett, "Love and Other Stories" in the series "The Tales of Chekhov, Vol13," Macmillian, ISBN,1931(1923),306pgs,%XXhc.

Act1Sc3 "The Governess (0:19,10min,p406,7pgs)" Mistress (Grant) teaches Julia (Mason), governess (babysitter) how she is going to cheat/robbed servant wages.

From 40 rubles/mo to 10 rubles final; deducting for impossibly high verbal offer, no work Sundays, birthday & holidays, not teaching both children, child is sick, sick leave due to toothache, saucer breakage, child climbing tree ripping jacket, day dreaming, advance against future wages, uncounted money. Simpleton servant; a hilarious skit.

Original short story: "The Ninny (Feb 1883)," p48-50(2pgs) in APC, transl Robert Payne (U Liverpool), "The Image of Chekhov: 40 stories," Knopf,1963,LoC62-15559,347pgs,%6hc.

Act1Sc6 "The Seduction (0:29,16min,p426,12pgs)" Chekhov teaches how ladies' man can prey on attractive young wives through their prominent, successful, powerful husband. Initially ignore Irena (Mason) the target, profferizing husband Nikolaich (Dishy).

A wise and witty tale about marriage, fidelity, and art seducing married woman. As married woman, slyly clever Irena beats Pyotr Semyonych (Chamberlain) at his own game.

Multiple tales on Peter's scenes on peeking her interest and winning her indirectly. His method is ingenious: he tells woman's husband his envy, knowing he will dutifully report his wife. Final offer is immortalizing painting wife's portrait. Plans over 2-3wks laying scenarios thick and heavy, turning wife into ambivalent yet passionate angel. Slyly Peter lays meeting, preying on curiosity and loneliness, to public garden 8PM rendezvous.

Meeting Peter, Irena delivers soliloquy, 1-page angelic portrait, tormented by him, arousing passion. But such an attack my vulnerability, if I leave my husband though, it is forever. I will become your devoted love; you must take care of my passion, also forever.

Original short story: "Boa Constrictor and Rabbit (1887)," p131-6(5pgs), in APC, transl Avrahm Yarmolinsky, "The Unknown Chekhov: stories and other writings," Minerva,1968(1954),LoC54-9075,316pgs,%3pbk.

Act2Sc1 "The Drowned Man (0:45,10min,p439,7pgs)," Writer (Chamberlain) meets an expert (Dishy) at "drowning" for public amusement. He will drown (if paid for it). A constable (Asner) says 3 rubles too high; 60 kopecks is it. Finally bargain struck; but Writer forgets name Savior drinking in bar.

Original short story: "Drowning (1885)," p73-7(4pgs), in APC, transl Avrahm Yarmolinsky,opcit.

Act2Sc2 "The Audition (0:55,9min,p447,6pgs)," fledgling actress-to-be comes from country to big city stage, "reads" the finale "The Three Sisters (1900)," one Chekhov's four most famous plays.

Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya, a wannabe 22-yr-old actress (Mason), comes after 6+3 months on audition waitlist. Trained Mme Zoblienska, Odessa, she traveled 4 days on foot. Acts ending soliloquy sisters, Masha, Irina and Olga. We must live, work.

Skit was written Neil Simon as Sisters was one Chekhov's last works before dying. Simon first meets Marsha Mason (1942- ) during audition 1973 Broadway production last moment, after first choice declines. They marry before end season.

Unspoken homage, Chekhov's 1901 late marriage to founding actress Olga Knipper (1868-1959), Moscow Art Theatre (1898), performing:"Seagull(1896),Uncle Vanya(1900),ThreeSisters(1901)." APC wrote middle sister character Masha expressly Olga, then marries.

Skit inspired Neil Simon, "The Play Goes On: memoir," Simon&Shuster,1999,0-684-84691-8,348pgs,%27hc.

Act2Sc3 "The Defenseless Creature (1:04,10min,p453,9pgs)," half-mad old wife Shtchukin (Grant) who trys extorting money from stuffy, sick banker Kistunov (Chamberlain), manages terrifying him. She rambles family troubles, brings out chicken. Demands 24 rubles, 36 kopecks refund from husband's employer. Jewish Mother; then Witch's curse.

Original short story: "A Defenceless Creature (1887)," p265-72(7pgs) in APC, "The Horse-Stealers and other Stories" in "The Tales of Chekhov, Vol 10,"1921,312pgs,opcit.

Act2Sc4 "The Arrangement (1:14,9min,p463,6pgs)," Father (Chamberlain) arranges 19-year only son Antosha (Gary Dontzig) first sex, instead groping young maidens, with "knowledgeable" woman (Mason). Father has high expectations rite passage.

Father negotiates 'Tute's initial 30 rubles, imploring B-day gift, bargains 10 rubles his past, finally 20 ruble deal struck. Woman use compassion, gentleness. Finally realizes that his boy will turn man once mounts stairs. Wait! more birthdays come, lets get umbrella instead.

Original short story:

Comment: Poor English, AmazLengthReqts, like Chekhov, eliminatedVerbs,ArticlesAndPrepositions. DVD leaves out two Shorts, "Surgery(1884)" Pitcher or Payne (toothache neophyte dental asst) and musical "Too Late for Happiness."