27 December 2002 | Red-125
Medical Melodrama--They don't make them like this any more!
"Not as a Stranger" is an old fashioned medical melodrama. The basic plot involves a young man (Mitchum) who is obsessed with becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, his obsession causes pain and unhappiness for the people around him.
Naturally, much of the medical material is out of date. Some commonplace matters in 1955 now strike us as incredible: a medical class with no women in it; doctors and nurses casually smoking; doctors who ride on ambulances.
The "small town" to which Mitchum moves after graduating from medical school is portrayed as isolated and rural. What we see is clearly a small city--bad choice of location.
In the context of the film,we have to accept Olivia de Havilland as plain and unsophisticated. Quite a suspension of disbelief.
However, Mitchum is excellent as the young physician who expects perfection from himself and all those around him, and Frank Sinatra is a good choice as Mitchum's cynical--but caring--friend.
Broderick Crawford as the medical professor Dr. Aarons, and Charles Bickford as Dr. Dave Runkleman, Mitchum's senior partner, both turn in solid performances.
Gloria Grahame is perfect as the wealthy widow, Harriet Lang, who oozes sexuality out of every alcoholic pore.
Watch for the dramatic scene when Crawford throws Grey's Anatomy at Sinatra. (Although beware the message that great medicine is synonymous with great memory. Memory is where great medicine starts, not where it ends.)
Two scenes need special comment:
When Mitchum tells a patient with a facial mole, "This kind is best left alone," he is wrong, wrong, wrong.
When Mitchum takes over the care of a critically ill patient of another doctor, Mitchum is right, right, right.
This movie is dated, but it is still worth seeing. Rent it and find out!