DR. COOK’S GARDEN (1971)
Article 2413 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-4-2007
Posting Date: 3-21-2008
Directed by Ted Post
Featuring Bing Crosby, Frank Converse, Blythe Danner
A young doctor returns to his home town in the hopes of taking up practice with the town doctor who he’s known for years. The town seems blessed; all of the evil people die at an early age. The young doctor begins to think this is more than coincidence, so he begins to investigate the files of the town doctor…
Bing Crosby is the unlikeliest serial killer since Charlie Chaplin in MONSIEUR VERDOUX , and, like Chaplin’s character in that movie, he has a justification for his actions; whereas Verdoux’s was political, Dr. Cook’s is moral – he believes that by weeding out the evil people (note the garden metaphor), he helps the rest to grow happier and healthier. For some reason, the concept of a seemingly perfect town with a dreadful secret in its center made me recall THE STEPFORD WIVES , and I don’t think that’s a coincidence; both movies are based on works by Ira Levin. Though I’m not really too impressed with the directing or production of this movie, the story is truly interesting, the performances are good (especially from Crosby), and the moral dilemma that pops up at the end of the movie is fascinating, in that, as much as we can say that we shouldn’t “play God” in deciding who lives and who dies, we nonetheless do have opinions on who is good, who is evil, and who should die and who should live. All in all, this is one of the more interesting TV-Movies out there.