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Crusty Dr. McRory of Fallbridge, Maine hires a replacement for his vacation sight unseen. Alas, he and young singing doctor Jim Pearson don't hit it off; but Pearson is delighted to stay, once he meets teacher Trudy Mason. The locals, taking their cue from McRory, cold-shoulder Pearson, especially Trudy's stuffy fiancée. But then, guess who needs an emergency appendectomy? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Going My Way was such a blockbuster hit for Paramount with the inspired teaming of Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald that sooner or later you knew they would be teamed again.
Going My Way had one problem; with Bing and Barry as priests you couldn't have any romance. So in this one, they're doctors. Bing is supposed to be a temporary replacement while Barry takes a long postponed vacation. Just like in Going My Way, they don't hit it off at first, but circumstances push them together and by the end of the picture they're fast friends and Bing ends up with schoolmarm Joan Caulfield.
Welcome Stranger does stand on its own merits as a picture, it's not just a pale imitation of Going My Way. Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke give Bing four good songs. Personally, I think the highlight of the movie is Bing singing and calling the square dance in Country Style.
He also sings a nice number called Smile Right Back At the Sun. Crosby had a song genre all his own, the upbeat philosophical songs and this is a perfect example of that kind of number. It's in the same vein as Swinging on a Star. No other singer ever sang so many numbers of that type as Crosby or sung them so well.
One of my favorite character actors Charles Dingle is the villain of the piece. Whether he's a serious or a comic villain like here, Dingle never disappoints with his patented brand of pomposity.
I would venture one criticism of the film. I believe Frank Faylen and Wanda Hendrix who play father and daughter could have had their characters more fully developed. I think a lot of their performances was edited out of the finished product.
But Welcome Stranger is still grand entertainment, Crosby and Paramount at their best.
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