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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 producer fighting to preserve his career. Written by
Paul Muni came out of retirement from films to make this movie--the first in about a dozen years. According to Robert Osborne (from Turner Classic Movies) this was because Muni was so incredibly difficult to work with that he was virtually blackballed from films. However, you'd never suspect this when you see the film as his performance is flawless. Perhaps it was because Muni might have been playing a part close to heart--a cranky old doctor who was devoted to his patients but also who wasn't afraid to say exactly what was on his mind! The story begins with cranky old Paul having a patient literally dumped on his front steps in the poor part of Brooklyn. You learn that despite working as a doctor for many years, he wasn't concerned with wealth or success as many people would see it. This devotion to duty resulted in a small article in the newspaper and a TV producer (David Wayne) decided an interview show about the doc would be great television. The problem, however, is that cranky old Paul has no interest in fame and getting him to agree to be on TV was a major problem. Just when you think that perhaps he'll finally do the show, other events intercede--leading to a touching but perhaps a bit too melodramatic an ending. I liked the way the film ended but my wife thought it was a bit too much to believe. Regardless, you can't ignore the rest of this lovely film--the acting and writing were exceptional. With minimal stunts and action, the film managed to entertain and make you think.
Overall, a powerful and interesting film that is perhaps marred a tad by a bit too much sentimentality and melodrama--but not so much that you should avoid the movie.
PS--Didn't David Wayne's boss remind you of Larry Tate from "Bewitched"? See the film and you'll understand what I mean.
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