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Dick Van Dyke,
Lucas Marsh, an intern bent upon becoming a first-class doctor, not merely a successful one. He courts and marries the warm-hearted Kristina, not out of love but because she is highly knowledgeable in the skills of the operating room and because she has frugally put aside her savings through the years. She will be, as he shrewdly knows, a supportive wife in every way. She helps make him the success he wants to be and cheerfully moves with him to the small town in which he starts his practice. But as much as he tries to be a good husband to the undemanding Kristina, Marsh easily falls into the arms of a local siren and the patience of the long-sorrowing Kristina wears thin. She reasons he no longer needs her and asks for a divorce. A calamity now brings Marsh to his senses. Dr. Runkleman, Marsh's gruff and wise employer, is stricken with a heart attack and requires emergency surgery. Marsh is forced to operate. Written by
The name of the procedure that Lucas was arguing about with Dr. Dietrich is called a vagotomy. At the time this film was made, it was a common procedure but it is rarely performed nowadays. See more »
When Dr Runkleman is undergoing surgery near the end of the film, there are several close-ups of an electrocardiograph as it monitors the procedure. However, there are no leads (wires) connecting it to the patient. See more »
***SPOILERS**** Very effective, if a bit over dramatic at times, medical drama having to do with a man who's so obsessed in becoming a doctor that he loses touch with the feelings of those around and close to him. Despertly wanting to continue his education in medical school Lucas Marsh, Robert Mitchum, goes so far as making a play for nurse Kristina Hedvigson, Olivia De Haviland, who he needs to pay for his tuition. Kristina a very sweet and caring young woman who's anything but the hot number that Lucas would normally go for is flattered by the attention that Lucus is giving her and in no time at all accepts his proposal for marriage. Kristine also without as much as saying a word pays for Lucas tuition which turns out to be a very good investment with him graduating at the top of his class.
Al Broome, Frank Sinatra, a fellow med student and Lucas' best friend sees through his fake romancing of Kristine which has him almost knocked cold by an enraged Lucas. Throughout the movie Al is the one person who tries to keep the two from splitting up when Kristina finally senses that she's being taken for a ride by her new husband.
It's when he's still in medical school that Lucas' arrogant and rebellious attitude toward his fellow doctors comes to the surface with him challenging Dr. Detrick, Whit Bissell, a teacher at the school about a medical procurer he's teaching the students which almost has him kicked out of the class and school. It takes a very painful apology by Lucas to keep him from having his medical career from ending before it ever began.
Now a full-fledged doctor Lucas and Kristine moves into the sleepy little town of Greenville to start his practice. It's also at Greenville where he starts to have an affair with local débutante Harriet Lange, Gloria Grahame, that leads to Kristina, who was pregnant at the time, walking out on him.
Much more complicated then you would expect it to be the film "Not as a Stranger" shows human relations at their rawest and most painful. There's in the film Lucas' father Job, Lon Chaney Jr, drinking away his sons tuition money that his wife left him. We later have a very explosive confrontation between father and son where Job is left crawling into his bottle of booze and ending up later in the movie, to Lucas' shock and horror, under the wheels of a city bus crushed to death. There's also Lucus' friendship with the wise-cracking and comical yet at the same time caring and understanding Al Broome. Lucus' hurts Al by bringing out, right in front of his fellow doctors and nurses, the fact that he operated on his patient not only without his permission but without checking that if she was suffering from melanoma which could have caused the cancer cells to spread all through her blood-stream. Lucas threatens to have him not only fired from his job as a doctor at the hospital but have his medical licenses revoked. It tuned out that the tumor that Al removed was benign.
Lucas' God-like belief in his ability as a man of medicine makes it almost impossible for anyone to work with him by demanding total perfection of the medical personal in Greenville Hospital, like his does of himself. Where at the same time he's anything but the perfect husband to his wife the mentally and emotionally abused Kristina. It's when Al checked out Kristina and finds that she's pregnant and very upset about it that he realizes that his friend Lucas is slowly causing her to have a breakdown. When he sense that instead of being overjoyed with the thought of starting a family with her husband she's going into a state of deep depression instead!
Juggling his duties as a doctor with his affair with Harrit Lucas' world comes to a crashing end. It's when he's suddenly called into the hospital operating room to operate on his friend and fellow doctor Dave Ruckelman, Charles Brickford, who just had a massive heart-attack and is not expected to pull through. Lucas who preformed miracles on the operating table in the past couldn't save his friend this time around. Just when it seemed that he got Daves heart back to normal it suddenly flat-lined, causing Dave to pass away.leaving Lucus shocked and destroyed in him feeling for the very first time that he isn't as infallible as he always thought that he was.
Coming back home, from where he was earlier kicked out, to Kristina a broken and helpless man Lucas finally saw what he was so blinded to. Lucas now realizes just how much he needed Kristina and how without her he never would have made it out of medical school and in the world of preventive medicine. Kristina, to her credit, took Lucas back knowing that his arrogance and ego-maniacal sense of self-importance died on the operating table together with his and her good friend and associate Dr.Dave Ruckleman.
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