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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
"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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