This past week, we watched a film we had never heard of before, and loved it. Entitled The Best of Men, it tells the story of Dr. Ludwig Guttman, a Jewish refugee from Hitler’s Germany, who was instrumental in changing the treatment of patients with spinal injuries. Brisk and brusque, Dr. Guttman, when finally assigned to serve at a military hospital dealing with paraplegic soldiers, clashes with just about everyone: the nurses, fellow doctors, military higher-ups at the hospital. You name it, he clashed with it.
BUT he got results.
What drew us to this British film was the man playing the lead, Eddie Marsan. Admittedly, Marsan is not a household name, but he is one of our favorite actors. Confession time: we of the CSL household are serious Anglophiles; we love British programming. Whether it be the comedy of QI, the period dramatizations of Dickens, Austen and Thackeray, or even a few British crime dramas, like Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie’s Poirot or Sherlock Holmes (either Cumberbatch or Brett is just fine, thank you.) We love them all.
We first came across Eddie Marsan as the snorting, irascible rent-collector Pancks, in the BBC production of Little Dorritt, and then were delighted when he turned up as Inspector Lestrade in Robert Downey’s Sherlock Holmes films. Finding that he was the star of The Best of Men was all I needed to put the film in our queue.
And was I glad I did. As I said, it tells the story Dr. Guttman, who transformed care for spinal injuries. The film showed how the soldiers were delivered to the hospital in coffins! They were not expected to survive, but merely waste away until the coffin was needed. Guttman began treating them as patients with a future, against the conventional wisdom of the time, and eventually gave the men a purpose for living. I did not realize this, but Dr. Guttman was the driving force behind the creation of the Paralympics, and was knighted in 1966 for his achievements.
All in all, The Best of Men, while not a well-known film, is a worthwhile film. Put it in your queue and enjoy.