Doctor John Abbott is a single parent who settles in the town of Westport, with his son Dick, trying to eke out a living for them. He also inherits, by way of his doorstep, an unwanted baby... See full summary »
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Doctor John Abbott is a single parent who settles in the town of Westport, with his son Dick, trying to eke out a living for them. He also inherits, by way of his doorstep, an unwanted baby girl, Jean Johnson, whom he adopts into his family, rears and loves as his own. Practicing his profession for pigs, I.O.U.s and a lot of empty promises as payment, he is barely able to provide for his family, yet is successful ultimately. Dr. Abbott is dedicated to the welfare of his community and well-being of his patients (mostly lower class working folks of the rural town), but must battle a group of miserly businessmen at every twist and turn. He encounters resistance by the local bureaucracy for every progressive idea or beneficial proposal, made for the betterment of the community, yet his altruistic optimism is not hampered by the penny-pinching bureaucrats interested more in lining their own pockets, rather than helping the town and its struggling population. Written by
Opening at the funeral of John Abbott, doctor of the small town, three men that Abbott owed money to are eager to wait for Abbott's assets to be distributed so they can reclaim their money. Abbott's effects however are a series of notes each with their own story to tell, such as a remittance for a doctor's fee for the birth of a baby girl, Jean, whom Abbott adopts, paid bills where the doctor provided everything he could for sacks of potatoes or a couple of dollars, as well as other memories of Abbott helping the town get their hospital, stopping a polio epidemic, sacrificing an advanced career in a more prosperous city, watching his son, Dick, following in his dad's footsteps, eventually taking over his practice, and more which make the men think that Dr. Abbott has paid his debts many times over. The film is a great slice of small town Americana that is very moving and brilliantly presented (by first time director Kanin). Edward Ellis in probably his only leading role is perfect even surpassing Lionel Barrymore's understated performance in an earlier version, One Man's Journey. Shirley and Bowman also lend fine support and a great mix of character actors play up the sentimentality of the film. Sad thing is the only surviving print is a Dutch subtitled version, but it is in good quality and it is a rare treat to watch. Rating, 9
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