The Citadel ★★★★

There are some aspects to The Citadel that haven't aged terribly well. The gender politics are exceptionally dated, which is jarring considering the woman with the biggest role is the famously outspoken Rosalind Russell. It's exactly the kind of well-meaning drama that sort of loses itself in its own importance--nowadays we call that Oscarbait. 

What exactly is the charm in this film then? It's fairly stodgy, very academic, and wears it's datedness proudly. Underneath those things, however, King Vidor directs with a surprisingly delicate touch. What should be the dullest film ever nominated by the Academy is instead made into a well-humored and good-natured one that lilts along with surprising grace. Unquestionably, however, the film's greatest asset is Robert Donat. One year before he would win his Oscar for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Donat is remarkable here. He finds both levity and truth in Dr. Andrew Manson, and makes every phase of the man's arc believable and moving. From his early scenes as an eager young doctor to his days as an embittered, callous sell-out, Donat delivers a terrifically fully realized performance.