A very respectful, if slow, biography of a woman who fought her entire life to bring her own system of treating polio victims to international acceptance. Russell was nominated for an Oscar for her work as she limns a nearly 40-year period in the life of Australian Kenny, from her
college days to age 60. Working from the book by Kenny and Ostenso, the screenwriters (who included costar Knox, a Canadian who played the president in WILSON) have toyed a bit with history in order to get a solid story on the screen. Russell, the daughter of Bondi and Dingle, is a newly graduated
nurse who travels to the Australian outback, where she first encounters the ravages of infantile paralysis. She has a relationship with Jagger, but he soon realizes that she is so involved with her efforts to ease the pain of the polio sufferers that there is no room for romance. Russell evolves a
theory for treatment and, like so many far-sighted creators, is scorned by the medical establishment because her ideas do not conform to the norm. Knox is a Scottish physician who believes in Russell's ideas; he is also in trouble with the other doctors, led by Merivale, who think Russell's
treatment is a lot of hogwash. But when Russell has good results wth her first patient, little McCann, she knows she's right and carries on the battle until she arrives in the US in 1940 and sets up her own institute at the University of Minnesota.
The picture lost almost $700,000 when it was released, perhaps because the country thought the whole idea of polio rehabilitation was futile. It was years before Dr. Jonas Salk would eradicate the disease with his vaccine. The movie is a bit lethargic in spots, but Russell's performance is
luminous. Elizabeth Kenny would eventually be associated with The March Of Dimes, an organization which began in 1938 and was headed by Roosevelt's former law partner.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: A very respectful, if slow, biography of a woman who fought her entire life to bring her own system of treating polio victims to international acceptance. Russell was nominated for an Oscar for her work as she limns a nearly 40-year period in the life of A… (more)