Typhoid Mary – The Most
Dangerous Woman In America (Nova)
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