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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Science > Politics > Typhoid Mary - The Most Dangerous Woman In America

Typhoid Mary The Most Dangerous Woman In America (Nova)


Picture: C+ Sound: C+ Extras: C- Documentary: B-



No, it is not just another sexist stereotype, there really was a woman who became named Typhoid Mary and she was an Irish immigrant cook named Mary Mallon who was an unaffected carrier of the often-fatal disease. She could never admit it and was tracked for much of her life by health detective George Soper. This 2004 installment of the great PBS/WGBH series Nova has been issued by WGBH and makes for a fascinating tale of medical crisis, civil rights, money, class division and personalities.


Writer/director Nancy Porter is sensitive to all sides, though in her reenactments, the actor playing Soper unintentionally comes across like Will Ferrell doing a send-up of many a stuffy British or American men that has become a hallmark of his comedy persona. If you can get over that and not laugh too much, there is a really good story here in its under-hour length. It reminds us of how panic was more common then and how little some things have changed decades later with all the new medical science.


The 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 letterboxed image is not anamorphic, which is a bit surprising for a recent production, but is color consistent if not as detailed as one might like. Most of it is shot on video with a few stills and fewer film clips included. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has very weak surround information, but is sufficient otherwise. Extras include a DVD-ROM section that allows printable educational material, while everyone can use the weblink or descriptive video services.



- Nicholas Sheffo


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