- Bobby Darin in Captain Newman, MD
- Hugh Griffith in Tom Jones
- John Huston in The Cardinal
- Melvyn Douglas in Hud
- Nick Adams in Twilight of Honor
Bobby Darin would lose to Melvyn Douglas to that year, but I believe that being recognized by the Academy for his performance solidified him as a talented actor. Most people think of Bobby Darin as a singer or the other half of the Bobby Darin & Sandra Dee marriage. Some might even think of him as a TV personality who had a knack for entertaining. I think of him as an actor.
I was already impressed with his performances in Pressure Point (1962), State Fair (1962) and Come September (1961) . I watch If a Man Answers (1962) several times a year! He could play a loveable cad or a Nazi sympathizer. He could be funny and charming or he could be angry and disturbed. So I was really happy when Captain Newman, MD (1963) came out on DVD. I got a chance to watch what was honored to be his best performance on screen.
Captain Newman, MD is a wonderful little film. It's not driven by one plot, rather several smaller plots that involve the various characters. Gregory Peck starts as Captain Newman, head of Ward 7, a psychiatric ward at an army hospital. Captain Newman is kind and genuinely cares for his patients, who are all WWII soldiers deeply disturbed by what they've seen and experienced on the battlefield. Newman gathers the best staff to take care of his patients including Corporal Laibowitz (Tony Curtis) and Lieutenant Corum (Angie Dickinson). We follow them as they deal with three of the worst cases. There is Colonel Bliss (Eddie Albert) whose seen all his men die and becomes withdrawn and violent, Captian Paul Cabot Winston (Robert Duvall!) who feels shame for his cowardice as a POW, and Corporal Jim Tompkins (Bobby Darin) who survives a harrowing plane crash only to see his best buddy die.
The scene that got Bobby Darin his nomination was done in one take (according to David Evanier's book Roman Candle). Captain Newman gives Tompkins flak juice (sodium pentothal) which puts Tompkins in a subconscious state where he reveals the details of his last mission. Darin throws his whole body into the scene. He's lying there, eyes closed, his body writhing as he goes from happy moments to harrowing ones. It's amazing and heart-wrenching to watch (although my pictures look a little silly).
I highly admire Bobby Darin. He did so much with his short life. Knowing he didn't have long to live, he lived life to the absolute fullest and wasted no time pursuing his dreams!
I recommend that you watch Captain Newman, MD (1963). Below is the trailer of the movie from the TCM Media room. It gives you a little taste of the mixture of drama and comedy that make up this film.