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There is no way to write a "spoiler"---is there actually somebody somewhere who, ten minutes into this 1950's film, wouldn't know where it is going and will end up---since it is a strictly written-by-the-numbers corruption and redemption meller that finds: number 1, a doctor returns from the Korean War to his Pennsylvania mining hometown, (and 2) must choose between dedicating himself to treating the suffering poor (or 3) build himself a swank office and get rich by flattering wealthy women with imaginary ailments. Throw in elements no. 5,Lizabeth Scott as a rich, spoiled, twice-divorced woman with a lip stiffer than his, and number 6, Dianne Foster as a nurse bent on helping all mankind, and there are no surprises left, especially if one take note of the name of Irving Wallace among the writers, the title and Scott billed above Foster. The only surprise here is that this film wasn't from Universal-International and directed by Douglas Sirk. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
About 55 minutes in, as Mrs. Nelson is being rushed to the hospital, the ambulance we see on the street is a Cadillac. When it enters the ramp to the emergency room, however, it has turned into a Buick. See more »
Dr. Tom Owen:
[on the phone with his wife]
Oh, I'm interviewing nurses, of course. Don't be silly, darling, of course she'll be fat and ugly. I do insist on good legs though.
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A young, magnetic Heston in a post Korean War melodrama
Bad for Each Other (1953)
Charlton Heston gets a bad rap sometimes--maybe that's what you expect after "Planet of the Apes"--but here he is the charming, confident, larger than life young man that made him famous. Yes, it's a B-movie, but it's a very strong performance for Heston and he is surrounded by a cast that is decent (Lizabeth Scott not at her best, which is saying a lot) to terrific (Ray Collins as the big business power guy he plays so well). The "business" at the center is a coal mine in a small Pennsylvania town, and Heston plays a doctor, Tom Owen, getting out of the military in a pseudo-noir kind of echo. Owen's dilemma is a worldly one--whether to doctor rich old women with frivolous pains or to work for the miners in their lower class afflictions.
And it is Lizabeth Scott, a pampered (and unabashedly pampered) rich girl who snags our hero, and so against his initial instinct Heston goes the rich and lazy way. But of course the coal mining town is all around him, and reminders pop up now and then. It's a great problem for a movie, and it's worked out with fairly predictable logic, so there is nothing to really fault here. Except that very predictability. Even Scott is a bit bland, not really getting to run her coolness to true ice. Some of the side characters are well developed, surprisingly (a "good" doctor untainted by money and an old woman who is wiser than she lets on at first), and director Irving Rapper (who should have been a music star in the 1990s with a name like that) makes it pop pretty well.
The less than sterling reputation of this movie is unwarranted, but it may be a result of higher expectations than this kind of movie deserves. Yes, the plot is boilerplate stuff, but so are half the movie plots out there. And Heston is sort of terrific. Yes, he plays a type, and he doesn't give the angst some other actor might, but I don't think the character, Dr. Owen, was an angst-y kind of guy. The way he wrestles with things is believable.
The cinematography by Franz Planer is better than I'd expected (the name didn't ring a bell) and there are small sterling moments, the camera moving around a group of people at a table, or across a wrought iron screen as the two leads start to hit it off. Nice stuff. The title is wrong, by the way--it's only Scott's character who is bad for the doctor, not the other way around. She's not about to be affected by anyone, especially a handsome young ex-GI who is such easy prey.
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