Review: This man had the cure; sound like anybody else?
“Nuts!” certainly lives up to its name.
And while not wanting to give away too much, it is a terrifyingly timely reminder of the way people gravitate toward that which seems comforting, no matter how outlandish the claims, how unlikely the results, how questionable the motivation. In the Age of Trump this movie resonates with fearsome power.
On the surface, though, it’s all in good fun. The focus is on Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, a small-town practitioner who, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, came up with a miracle cure for male impotence: He implanted goat testicles in his patients’, er, nether regions and voila! — they were able to multiply and be fruitful once again. Thus, at least in part, the movie’s title.
He began this practice — which became so well-known it was even featured in a Buster Keaton movie — in an obscure Midwestern town, but made it famous by building a radio station that broadcast his ideas, as well as country music and cowboy songs, to the country at large. In many ways Dr. Brinkley was a broadcasting pioneer — radio was in its infancy when he jumped in — and the idea of using it as a self promotion vehicle (think Rush Limbaugh in 1930) was untested.
Of course, the dreaded establishment would have none of this goat testes nonsense, so Dr. Brinkley was forced to move to Texas, along the border with Mexico. In Mexico he built an even bigger radio station — later the vehicle that allowed Wolfman Jack to bring rock ‘n’ roll to the masses — and established a clinic in Texas to dispense his goat gonad cure to the world. He made millions.
Director Penny Lane uses creative animation, archival footage and recordings — the good doctor apparently loved to be filmed — to tell an absolutely outrageous story of neediness, greed, delusion and gullibility. Again, so pertinent in the age of Trump, whose great wall would separate the doctor’s Texas home from his radio station.
Tom Long is a longtime culture critic.
Running time: 79 minutes