While not without its faults, Captain Newman, M.D. is an entertaining, well-intentioned film that benefits from its sterling cast. Where Newman is less fortunate is in its screenplay, which vacillates between comedy and drama and never quite finds the appropriate balance between the two. There's also a structural problem inherent in Newman: it stars Gregory Peck and with a star of that magnitude must focus on him. But the character of Newman is more of an observer and reactor than a participant and catalyst, and so the film keeps shifting its focus away from the star and onto the supporting players. Director David Miller does what he can to correct these flaws, but his efforts are only partially successful. Fortunately, the screenplay compensates for its flaws with some finely realized characters and some flavorful dialogue. Peck is a bit stiff in Newman, a tendency he had to fight against in many roles, but his star power counts for a lot. Angie Dickinson is attractive and effective, and James Gregory properly officious, but the best supporting performances come from Eddie Albert, Robert Duvall and the Oscar-nominated Bobby Darin. Darin's performance is the most surprising, revealing much more depth and talent than one would expect from his lighter roles, but Albert is equally as good, and Duvall impressive in a part that requires little speaking. The stories of these 3 men form the dramatic basis of the picture, and they play their parts for all they are worth.
by Craig Butler review