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As the fiercely dedicated general practitioner who tries to help the sick, the poor and the unfortunate in his decrepit neighborhood, Paul Muni is the testy old man who faces life without compromise and David Wayne is the troubled television executive fighting to preserve his career. Written by
Part character study, part diatribe on ethics and power...but without the incisive script needed to put it across
Gerald Green's novel, about a slum doctor in Brooklyn whose sudden positive notoriety has left him with a bitter aftertaste, comes to the screen with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Paul Muni (in his final film, for which he was inexplicably Oscar-nominated) plays the stereotypical 'old humbug' practitioner who helps save a young girl's life one night and is hailed in print as a local hero; soon, a documentary team wants to turn their cameras on Muni, who finds himself caught between good intentions and insincere sympathy. Too many targets--and too much heavy-handed chatter--cloud this picture's alleged focus: the elderly doctor who only wants to do right by his young patients. Daniel Mann directed, poorly; his actors seem encouraged to be theatrical, while the hysterical pitch of the piece steadily climbs to a ridiculous level. A handful of scenes work (particularly the moments between Muni and troubled youth Billy Dee Williams), yet the doctor's relationships with his eager-beaver nephew and stalwart wife are sadly artificial. ** from ****
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