The Doctor (1991) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Doctor1991

The Doctor (1991)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A doctor finds out the hard way that there's more to medicine than skill in the operating theater in this emotional drama. Jack McKee (William Hurt) is a gifted but arrogant surgeon who cares little about the emotional welfare of his patients and is little more than a benign stranger to his wife Anne (Christine Lahti) and his son Nicky (Charlie Korsmo). Jack has been suffering from a nagging cough for some time, and when he begins coughing up blood one morning, he finally allows another doctor to take a look at him. The doctor discovers that Jack has a malignant tumor in his throat that could rob him of the ability to speak, or even kill him. Suddenly, Jack is a patient instead of a doctor, and he learns first hand about the long stretches in the waiting room, the indignity of filling out pointless forms, and the callous attitude of the professional medical community. Jack also gets to know June (Elizabeth Perkins), a terminal cancer patient whose joyous embrace of life as her time draws to a close is an inspiration to him. Restored to health, Jack is determined to be a more caring healer and strives to be a better husband and father, but his new lease on life also earns him an enemy in fellow surgeon Murray (Mandy Patinkin), who wants Jack to lie under oath for him in a major malpractice case; and a new respect for Eli (Adam Arkin), an ear-nose-throat man he used to ridicule for his empathetic treatment of his patients. The Doctor was based on the memoir of real-life surgeon Ed Rosenbaum, entitled "A Taste of My Own Medicine."

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William Hurt
as Dr. Jack MacKee
Christine Lahti
as Anne MacKee
Mandy Patinkin
as Dr Murray Caplan
Adam Arkin
as Dr.Eli Blumenfield
Charlie Korsmo
as Nicky MacKee
Wendy Crewson
as Dr.Leslie Abbott
Bill Macy
as Al Cade
William Marquez
as Mr. Maris
Ping Wu
as Jay-Jay
Richard McKenzie
as Mr. Richards
Denis Heames
as Young Patient
Sue Rihr
as Shirley
Brandyn Artis
as Nurse Jane
Breon Gorman
as Joey's Mother
Fran Bennett
as Admissions Secretary
Zoaunne LeRoy
as Ward Nurse
Jonathan Kohl
as Anesthesiologist
Ross Eto
as 1st MRI Tech
Karen S. Gregan
as Dr. Abbot's Receptionist
Lillian Hurst
as Mrs. Maris
Rosa Maria Briz
as Mrs. Maris's Mother
Steven Gundry
as Heart Transplant Surgeon
Akuyoe Graham
as June's Nurse
Jusak Bernhard
as Record Clerk
Matthew T. Clancy
as Doctor in Hallway
Jeris Poindexter
as Doctor in Hallway
Gail Neely
as Operating Room Nurse
Lily Mariye
as Operating Room Nurse
Woodryan Alexander
as Operating Room Nurse
Susan Schelling Long
as Operating Room Nurse
Zakes Mokae
as Dr. Charles Reed
Susan Schelling
as O.R. Nurse
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Critic Reviews for The Doctor

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5)

The Doctor is that rare specimen--a big studio movie that treats the audience (and its own characters) with intelligence and respect. It cuts close to the bone.

February 7, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

In the wrong hands, this material could have been simply a cautionary tale, but Hurt and his director, Randa Haines, who also collaborated on Children of a Lesser God, make it into the story of a specific, flawed, fascinating human being.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

The Doctor is a shrewd and serious piece of work.

October 15, 2019 | Full Review…

[Christine Lahti] is capable of bringing great depth to any part. But how do you plumb a petri dish?

September 11, 2019 | Full Review…

...a relatively solid yet erratically-paced little drama.

February 9, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

An honest, well-acted and very moving drama about a cold, arrogant surgeon (a terrific Hurt) who learns about compassion when he becomes a cancer patient.

July 5, 2007 | Rating: 8/10

Audience Reviews for The Doctor

William Hurt gives his usually strong performance as a doctor who learns the errors of his bed manner ways by becoming sick himself. It meanders into over sentimentality at the end however.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Hurt. Nuff said. He's simply brilliant here, perfectly cast and at the top of his game. Which is a good thing, seeing as he's pretty much carrying the whole film on his own. While the film does border on the melodramatic, some moments really stuck with me. Our entire med class watched this together and the immediacy really hit us hard. It's believable. You can see yourself falling into those habits of negligence or over-working yourself. All I can say is that if you're in a health-related field, this is pretty much required viewing. Thanks, Will. :)

Jessica van der Sloot
Jessica van der Sloot

Super Reviewer


Superb film, Hurt is brillaint as the egotistical surgeon and his fall from grace is touching and extremely well done.

Barry Lappin
Barry Lappin

Super Reviewer

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