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The story represents an idealistic clash between two pathologists, one (Fredric March) the veteran department head whose ideals and perspective have been mellowed and blunted somewhat by years of red tape and day-to-day frustration, the other (Ben Gazzara), his new assistant, young, aggressive, up-to-date and meticulous in his approach to the job. The conflict is dramatically illustrated via two critical cases in which both are pretty intimately involved. Written by
Watching The Young Doctors again after many years, I was struck by the film's no nonsense approach to the vagaries of medicine. While circumstances-and science have changed in the intervening 47 years since the movies' initial release, the drama of life and death in a hospital, as trite as that sounds, plays out with earnestness and poignancy. Ben Gazarra plays pathologist David Coleman, assigned to a lab headed by the incumbent Doctor Pearson.(Fredric March.) Pearson, (played to perfection by March), resents the younger man's attempts to modernize the antiquated path lab. The push-pull dynamic between the two men is believable,even if it does, at times, creep toward cheesiness. Coleman's budding relationship with nurse Cathy Hunt (Ina Balin), has to hit the right note, as their interaction figures prominently in the climax of the story. Both actors are up to the task, especially Gazarra, who makes his character live and breathe-and be real. The poignant scene of an exhausted Eddie Albert as a doctor trying to give a dying infant a chance at life resonates-even today. I found the film compelling and genuinely moving, just as I did when I saw it for the first time.
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