PubMed Goes to the Movies!

Why see the film when you can read the article?

by Robert E. Pyatt Ph.D.
Assistant Laboratory Director
Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Columbus, Ohio

This is a comparison of classic films and science articles that share the same name.

The movie facts come from the Internet Movie Database. Information about the science articles comes from the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cleef. Directed by Sergio Leone.

Spaghetti Western set against the backdrop of the Civil War where 3 men, the good (Eastwood), the bad (Van Cleef), and the ugly (Wallach), race to uncover a hidden stash of Confederate gold.

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (with Apologies to Sergio Leone)”

M.V. Connelly, Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, vol. 16, no. 2, May 2008 pp. 179–82.

Tales of a plastic surgery practice set in a small city including the good (well informed patients who follow all pre and post-op instructions and are “thoroughly pleased with the postoperative results”), the bad (patients who “bring you grief and perhaps damage your reputation”), and the ugly (“disparaging remarks from another surgeon in your area”).

A Night at the Opera

A Night at the Opera (1935)

Starring the Marx Brothers and Kitty Carlisle. Directed by Sam Wood.

The Marx Brothers take on high society as the boys help two opera singers find fame and true love.

“A Night at the Opera”

[no author listed] Mental Health Today,October 2005, pp. 10-1. Touching and comedic tale of “Streetwise Opera,” a company which designs, stages, and performs operas with a combination of professional performers and homeless people.

Bambi Meets Godzilla

(YouTube link)

Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969)

Written and directed by Marv Newland.

Animated short featuring the first silver screen pairing of two of Hollywood’s most memorable creatures with the expected tragic consequences.

“Psychotherapy Research Evidence and Reimbursement Decisions: Bambi Meets Godzilla”

M.B. Parloff, American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 139, no. 6, June 1986, pp.718–27.

Like a tender doe standing in a sunny forest glen, “policy guiding reimbursement issues for mental health care” faces off against the gargantuan “research evidence of psychotherapy outcome”. Eerily similar ending to its big screen counterpart.

Saturday Night Fever

Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Starring John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney. Directed by John Badham.

“The tribal rites of the new Saturday night.” Two New Yorkers, Tony (Travolta) and Stephanie (Gorney), discover passion, maturity, and themselves as they disco dance across Manhattan.

“Saturday Night Fever: A Common Source Outbreak of Rubella Among Adults in Hawaii”

J.S. Marks, M.K. Serdula, N.A. Halsey, M.V. Gunaratne, R.B. Craven, K.A. Murphy, G.Y. Kobayashi and N.H. Wiebenga, American Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 114,
no. 4, October 1981, pp. 574–83.

It’s a whole other kind of fever on this Saturday night as a rubella outbreak infects young adults, with the common place of exposure being a discotheque. Evidence suggests that the virus source was a piano player/singer at the club and that transmission was airborne, rather than person to person, and occurred during his singing.


The article above is from the September-October 2008 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research. You can download or purchase back issues of the magazine, or subscribe to receive future issues. Or get a subscription for someone as a gift!

Visit their website for more research that makes people LAUGH and then THINK.

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