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Two pathologists -- a veteran department head (Fredric March) whose perspective has been shaped by years of red tape and day-to-day frustrations, and his new assistant (Ben Gazarra), a young, somewhat aggressive man who is more up-to-date but who lacks his colleague's personal touch -- clash in a small hospital's lab. The gulf between their approaches is dramatically illustrated by two critical cases that both are intimately involved in. Written by
"The Young Doctors" is a 1961 film that is primarily about an old doctor (Frederic March) and a young doctor (Ben Gazzara). Gazzara, as David Coleman, comes to work in the pathology lab, the universe of Dr. Pearson (March), who resents this young whippersnapper's attempts to update the practices and equipment. It's the practicality vs. the idealism of youth - the budget, the energy fighting with the board, all of which Dr. Pearson is all too familiar. He makes it clear that he's not about to be driven out, either.
There are two subplots - one concerns Cathy (Ina Balin), a nursing student whom Coleman falls in love with; and Dr. Alexander (Dick Clark) and his wife, whose baby is born with erythroblastosis. This is the most dramatic, emotional, and suspenseful part of the film as the baby's doctor (Eddie Albert) transfuses the child. You really hold your breath.
This is a well-acted film, if a little bit predictable and dated, with excellent performances by March, Gazzara, Balin, and Albert. Dick Clark could have been a stronger presence. Aline MacMahon, a real old-timer, does a great job as a surgeon.
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