Captain Newman, M.D.

Captain Newman, M.D. is a 1963 American comedy drama film directed by David Miller and starring Gregory Peck, Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson, Robert Duvall, Eddie Albert and Bobby Darin. Peck's Brentwood Production also co-produced the film.[2]

Captain Newman, M.D.
Theatrical poster
Directed byDavid Miller
Produced byRobert Arthur
Written byRichard L. Breen
Henry Ephron
Phoebe Ephron
StarringGregory Peck
Tony Curtis
Angie Dickinson
Robert Duvall
Eddie Albert
Bobby Darin
Music byFrank Skinner
CinematographyRussell Metty
Edited byAlma Macrorie
Brentwood Productions
Reynard Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 23, 1963 (1963-12-23)
Running time
126 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4.25 million (rentals)[1]

The film is based on the 1961 novel by Leo Rosten. It was loosely based on the World War II experiences of Rosten's close friend Ralph Greenson, M.D., while Greenson was a captain in the Army Medical Corps supporting the U.S. Army Air Forces and stationed at Yuma Army Airfield in Yuma, Arizona. Greenson is well known for his work on "empathy" and was one of the first in his field to seriously associate posttraumatic stress disorder (years before that terminology was developed) with wartime experiences. He was a director of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Institute and was a practicing Freudian. Greenson is perhaps best known for his patients, who included Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis and Vivien Leigh.

Major filming took place at the U.S. Army's Fort Huachuca complex in southern Arizona, with the co-located Libby Army Airfield used to portray the fictional Colfax Army Air Field.

The story was used as a 1972 television pilot of the same title produced by Danny Thomas Productions starring Jim Hutton in the title role and Joan Van Ark as Lt Corum.[3]


In 1944, Captain Josiah Newman is head of the neuro-psychiatric Ward 7 at the Colfax Army Air Field (AAF) military hospital, located in the Arizona desert. As he explains to a visiting VIP who wanders in: "We're short of beds, doctors, orderlies, nurses, everything ... except patients." He will use unconventional tactics to treat his patients and to recruit much needed personnel, as when he hijacks a new and very reluctant orderly, Corporal Jackson Leibowitz, a wheeler-dealer from New Jersey. Leibowitz promptly has the entire ward participating in a sing-along of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."

Newman also takes great pains to court nurse Lieutenant Francie Corum on what she thinks is a date... until he asks her to transfer to Ward 7. Their 'date/fight' is cut short by a phone call: Colonel Bliss has forced his way into Ward 7 looking for Dr. Newman with a 6-inch knife, because Newman blocked his return to active duty after witnessing Bliss' erratic behavior. After watching Newman's handling of this situation and other patients on the ward, Corum transfers in.

Newman treats shell-shocked, schizophrenic and catatonic patients, facing an especial challenge from the traumatized Corporal Jim Tompkins, an Eighth Air Force air gunner whose mind has been shattered by his war experiences. He is bedeviled by Colfax AAF's "old-school" base commander, Colonel Pyser, who ultimately saddles him with a complement of injured Italian POWs because his is the only secure ward in the hospital. In addition, a flock of constantly straying sheep (kept for the medical lab) that find their way to the airfield and a set of feuding orderlies keeps life interesting right up to Christmas 1944.


Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards.[4]

1972 TV Pilot

An attempt was made to turn the film into a TV sitcom by Thomas-Crenna Productions, the company of Danny Thomas and Richard Crenna. A pilot was shot in 1972, written by Frank Tarloff. It aired on 19 August 1972.[5][6] The Los Angeles Times said "it was easy to see why it was never sold."[7]


See also


  1. "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
  2. p.239 Fishgall, Gary Gregory Peck: A Biography Simon and Schuster, 2002
  3. p.650 Terrace, Vincent Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937-2012 McFarland, 26 Feb. 2013
  4. "The 36th Academy Awards (1964) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-23.
  5. Captain Newman MD 1972 film at IMDb
  6. Goldberg, Lee (2015). The Best TV Shows That Never Were: 300 Memorable Unsold Pilots.
  7. Smith, C. (1972, Sep 04). Crenna takes film route in TV return. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
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