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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
Robert Mitchum is an actor I usually like but Stanley Kramer was wrong to cast him in the central role of the idealistic doctor. A more sensitive actor (like Montgomery Clift) would have been much more suitable. Sleepy-eyed Mitchum is the one big weakness of this drama--he rarely changes his expression even when he is angrily berating his long-suffering wife (Olivia de Havilland) or best pal (Frank Sinatra). His expressionless demeanor was OK when playing tough hoods but doesn't serve him well here. Gloria Grahme plays her familiar siren role as though she has novocaine in her upper lip. But everyone else shines--Broderick Crawford as a Jewish doctor, Charles Bickford as Mitchum's mentor, and Frank Sinatra adding a much needed sense of humor to the proceedings as a materialistic doctor. Olivia de Havilland, with blonde hair and Scandinavian accent, has a couple of very strong scenes which she plays brilliantly. All of the smaller roles are well done--and particularly strong are the hospital scenes dealing with patients, operations and interns. But the big drawback is Mitchum--unable to get into his role and make his character more than a cardboard figure. Nevertheless, the film itself is still compelling and well worth viewing. The reviewers claimed that all of the actors were too old for their parts--and while this is true, only Mitchum fails to deliver.
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