Something the Lord Made

Synopsis: Alfred Blalock (1899-1964), a cardiologist (therefore, self-confident to the point of arrogance), leaves Vanderbilt for Johns Hopkins taking with him his lab technician, Vivien Thomas (1910-1985). Thomas, an African-American without a college degree, is a gifted mechanic and tool-maker with hands splendidly adept at surgery. In 1941, Blalock and Thomas take on the challenge of blue babies and invent bypass surgery. After trials on dogs, their first patient is baby Eileen, sure to die without the surgery. In defiance of custom and Jim Crow, Blalock brings Thomas into the surgery to advise him, but when Life Magazine and kudos come, Thomas is excluded. Will he receive his due?
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Joseph Sargent
Production: HBO Video
  Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 17 wins & 30 nominations.
110 min

Thank you.

All right, everybody, that's it for the day.

Be sure you get that drop cloth up

before you leave, all right?

-That's some nice work, young blood.

-Thank you, Mr. Roulette.

Yeah, your daddy taught you right.

You know, when all the construction

starts coming back...

you got skills

to make something of yourself.

Thank you, sir.

That's fine. l can wait until payday.

l'm sorry, all the others

have families to feed...

but you do good work.

-l like what you do, okay?


You got a funny way of telling me that.


-Didn't l tell you l could pull some strings?

-Yes, you did, Charlie.

-Thank you, you're a good man.


But tell me why.... Morning.

Why would a doctor

want to hire a carpenter?

Because it ain't nothing

but scud work anyway.

You ain't gonna like it.

-You say the pay is $12 a week?


-l'm liking it already.

-All right, then.

Dr. Blalock, this is Vivien Thomas.

Vivien? That's a girl's name.

Yes, my mother was so sure

she was having a girl...

that she picked the name early, and kept it.

You don't say.

l'm pleased to meet you, sir.

Call me Doctor, and, Francis,

you can tell this good doctor...

that his theories are extremely interesting,

and l'll be praying for him.

Yes, Doctor.

Though it's his patients

l should be praying for.

Keep up, son.

-This is where my work is done.

-What is your work?

Medical research.

We push the limits of surgery...

using stray dogs

we get from the local dog catch.

They're darling, but don't get too attached.

They're a means to a great end.

The dog pens get cleaned up twice a day.

l need the lab swept every morning.

Simple tasks, but they proved

beyond the abilities of your predecessors.

Do you think you can handle it?


-So what?

Don't ''so what'' me. Did you get it?

You got it. You must have got it.

-lt's working at a hospital, right?


l'm so glad.

Everyone's gonna see how smart you are.

l don't know

how smart you have to be to shovel.

The guy l'm working for,

he seemed kind of eccentric...

but he is a doctor, yeah.

That's right, he is a doctor.

So you just keep your eyes open.

-We can get married now.


Do everything just like we laid it out.


and Mrs. Thomas.


-Good morning, sir.

-You said you were a carpenter?


-Did you go to high school?

-Yes, l did. Got my diploma.

Planning on going to Tennessee State

next year...

to study medicine, be a doctor.

Unusual ambition for a carpenter.

l always wanted to be one since l was a kid.

l almost saved up enough money

for college...

and then slowdown hit.

Those are Van Slyke

gas manometers over there.

So you can handle a saw?

-Yeah, since l was 12.

-Do tell.

For cutting the lines, my father

would measure on the lumber, sir.

Call me Doctor.

So your daddy's a carpenter, too?

-What does he think of your ambition?

-He's always known l had my mind set on it.

Those apparatus on the workbench,

what are they called?

Van Slyke gas manometers, sir, Doctor.

They are, indeed.

Vanderbilt may be a Podunk institution,

but l'm gonna put it on the medical map.

l'm working on traumatic shock.

Damn thing kills thousands of people

every year...

and doctors don't know

what the hell to do about it.

Let me see those hands.

Pick that up.

Now the left hand.


Excuse me, Vivien.

Dr. Blalock wanted you to have this.

-Thank you.

-Good night.

You know what my grandfather did?

lt doesn't have anything to do

with me going out on strike.

l said, ''Do you know

what my grandfather did?''


He picked cotton in Mississippi,

you told me a hundred times.

My grandfather was a piece of property.

No better than that chair or table over there.

His son became a free man at the age of 15.

He raised me

with hardly an elementary school education.

Now l see my son graduate college

and go on to teach school.

So don't tell me

things don't get better over time.

Things don't just get better.

People got to change things, Pop,

make them better.

lf l don't do something now,

l'll be a dead man...

before l get paid like white teachers do.

Vivien, you know l'm right about this.

All right, now, Harold, just hold your head.

l got reading to do.

To anesthetize Brutus,

first we have to calculate the weight.

He weighs 18.4 kilograms.

And it should take

552 milligrams of sodium barbital...

to anesthetize him for three hours

if the absorption rate is uniform.

Dogs? What kind of doctor is he?

Dogs? What kind of doctor is he?

When you practice on dogs,

and then you can help heal people.

-Gives me the willies.

-lt's not that bad.

l mean, you look inside,

you see all the colors...

all the pinks and blues, reds.

lt's beautiful, Clara.

That's where life comes from.

What's this?

What's this?

Open up.

Excuse me, sir. What's going on here?

The bank is closed.



Open up.

-Open this door!

-Somebody got to see somebody in there.

Open up, it's 10:00. l got to get to work.

Let's go, Vivien, we'll come back later.

No, Clara, something's wrong.

lt can't be closed.

Excuse me.

Excuse me, sir. Hello.

Get away from that window, we're closed.

But l have my money in there.

-l need to get my money out.

-l can't get your money back for you.

-Why not? Tell me why not.

-Go on home, son. The bank has failed.

Sir, that's all my savings.

l had my money for school in there.

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Peter Silverman

Peter Guy Silverman, is a Canadian broadcast journalist based in Toronto, Ontario. His television journalism career began in 1974 as a reporter for Global Television Network's first years. In 1981, he moved to Citytv where he became a reporter for that station's CityPulse news program (now known as CityNews). He was host of Silverman Helps, an ombudsman-type feature for consumers that began in 1989, and ended on 4 June 2008 when he was dismissed without cause by Citytv's owner, Rogers Media. On September 2008, Silverman joined Toronto radio station CFRB to host a Saturday morning radio show called The Peter Silverman Show. He graduated from Sir George Williams University, one of Concordia University’s founding institutions, with a BA in 1953. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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