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"Not as a Stranger" is an old fashioned medical melodrama. The primary plot involves a young boy (Mitchum) who is obsessed with becoming a doctor. Unfortunately, his obsession causes pain and unhappiness for the folks around him.Naturally, much of the medical material is out of date. Some commonplace matters in 1955 actually strike us as incredible: a medical class with no girls 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 tiny city--bad choice of location.In the context of the film,we have to agree Olivia de Havilland as plain and unsophisticated. Quite a suspension of disbelief.However, Mitchum is perfect as the young physician who expects perfection from himself and all those around him, and Frank Sinatra is a nice 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 excellent as the wealthy widow, Harriet Lang, who oozes sexuality out of each alcoholic pore.Watch for the dramatic stage when Crawford throws Grey's Anatomy at Sinatra. (Although beware the message that nice medicine is synonymous with nice memory. Memory is where nice medicine starts, not where it ends.)Two scenes need unique comment:When Mitchum says a patient with a facial mole, "This type is greatest left alone," he is wrong, wrong, wrong.When Mitchum takes over the care of a critically ill patient of other doctor, Mitchum is right, right, right.This film is dated, but it is still worth seeing. Rent it and search out!
Many have panned Robert Mitchum's performance in this film, but I think that his lack of expression and emotion, another than anger, suits the hero very well.Mitchum's Marsh is a fully self-absorbed individual. He's committed to medicine and can't understand human failings, especially his own. His character's cold demeanor perfectly reflects the fact that Marsh has no outer life. If he often appears robotic, it's largely because he's programmed himself to shut out everything human, ironically in service to humanity. Of course he's a nice doctor, but he's pure hell to work or live with. Bursting with pride, insensitive to the mission of cruelty, Marsh is unreachable and, in more than one sense of the term, untouchable. Mitchum conveys all of this very naturally, perhaps because so much of his performance is rooted in the dark globe of movie noir, where the actor first made his mark. He's a physician from the neck up, but he has the heart of a contract killer. That he heals instead of kills is his patients' nice fortune, though of tiny solace to his mates or his wife.Although Mitchum's interpretation remains controversial, many of the another performances in `Not as a Stranger' are beyond criticism. Olivia deHavilland, as his suffering spouse, is magnificent as always. Charles Bickford, an actor who deserves a much greater reputation, is the epitome of a tiny city doctor. And surprisingly, Broderick Crawford is perfect as a gruff professor of pathology.On the another hand, Frank Sinatra's pediatrician isn't as strong, though he has some nice scenes when he tries to support Mitchum see the error of his ways. Gloria Grahame, unfortunately, is stuck with a seductress role that just as well should have been cut. There are another weaknesses. George Antheil's score, by method of Wagner and Richard Strauss, is cute difficult to take. The script and direction are uneven. Many scenes are compelling, such as when Crawford literally throws the ebook at Sinatra or when deHavilland and Mitchum have one of their confrontations. Others fall flat and there is a tendency, typical in most of Stanley Kramer's work, to hold making points at the expense of the story. For example, the med school sequences with Whit Bissell's greedy and unethical Dr Dietrich (interesting choice of name there) cover a darker side of the profession very well. There's really no need for Jesse White, terribly miscast as a lawyer who cozies up to Grahame, to bring up ethical problems much soon in the film. Suggested as an above average melodrama and as an interesting time capsule of mid-50s medicine. (Though I found it difficult to trust patients were allowed to smoke in the wards!)
***SPOILERS**** Very effective, if a bit over dramatic at times, medical drama having to do with a boy who's so obsessed in becoming a doctor that he loses touch with the feelings of those around and close to him. Despertly wanting to continue his education in medical school Lucas Marsh, Robert Mitchum, goes so far as making a enjoy for nurse Kristina Hedvigson, Olivia De Haviland, who he needs to pay for his tuition. Kristina a very sweet and caring young girl who's anything but the hot number that Lucas would normally go for is flattered by the attention that Lucus is giving her and in no time at all accepts his proposal for marriage. Kristine also without as much as telling a word pays for Lucas tuition which turns out to be a very nice investment with him graduating at the top of his class.Al Broome, Frank Sinatra, a fellow med student and Lucas' greatest mate sees through his fake romancing of Kristine which has him almost knocked cold by an enraged Lucas. Throughout the film Al is the one person who tries to hold the two from splitting up when Kristina finally senses that she's being taken for a ride by her fresh husband. It's when he's still in medical school that Lucas' arrogant and rebellious attitude toward his fellow doctors comes to the surface with him challenging Dr. Detrick, Whit Bissell, a teacher at the school about a medical procurer he's teaching the students which almost has him kicked out of the class and school. It takes a very painful apology by Lucas to hold him from having his medical career from ending before it ever began.Now a full-fledged doctor Lucas and Kristine moves into the sleepy tiny city of Greenville to begin his practice. It's also at Greenville where he begins to have an affair with local débutante Harriet Lange, Gloria Grahame, that leads to Kristina, who was pregnant at the time, walking out on him.Much more complicated then you would expect it to be the movie "Not as a Stranger" shows human relations at their rawest and most painful. There's in the movie Lucas' father Job, Lon Chaney Jr, drinking away his sons tuition cash that his wife left him. We soon have a very explosive confrontation between father and son where Job is left crawling into his bottle of booze and ending up soon in the movie, to Lucas' shock and horror, under the wheels of a town bus crushed to death. There's also Lucus' friendship with the wise-cracking and comical yet at the same time caring and understanding Al Broome. Lucus' hurts Al by bringing out, right in front of his fellow doctors and nurses, the fact that he operated on his patient not only without his permission but without checking that if she was suffering from melanoma which should have caused the cancer cells to spread all through her blood-stream. Lucas threatens to have him not only fired from his job as a doctor at the hospital but have his medical licenses revoked. It tuned out that the tumor that Al removed was benign.Lucas' God-like belief in his ability as a boy of medicine makes it almost impossible for anyone to work with him by demanding total perfection of the medical private in Greenville Hospital, like his does of himself. Where at the same time he's anything but the excellent husband to his wife the mentally and emotionally abused Kristina. It's when Al checked out Kristina and finds that she's pregnant and very upset about it that he realizes that his mate Lucas is slowly causing her to have a breakdown. When he sense that instead of being overjoyed with the thought of starting a family with her husband she's going into a state of deep depression instead!Juggling his duties as a doctor with his affair with Harrit Lucas' globe comes to a ruining end. It's when he's suddenly named into the hospital operating room to operate on his mate and fellow doctor Dave Ruckelman, Charles Brickford, who just had a heavy heart-attack and is not expected to pull through. Lucas who preformed miracles on the operating table in the past couldn't save his mate this time around. Just when it seemed that he got Daves heart back to normal it suddenly flat-lined, causing Dave to pass away.leaving Lucus shocked and destroyed in him feeling for the very first time that he isn't as infallible as he everytime thought that he was.Coming back home, from where he was earlier kicked out, to Kristina a broken and helpless boy Lucas finally saw what he was so blinded to. Lucas actually realizes just how much he required Kristina and how without her he never would have made it out of medical school and in the globe of preventive medicine. Kristina, to her credit, took Lucas back knowing that his arrogance and ego-maniacal sense of self-importance died on the operating table together with his and her nice mate and associate Dr.Dave Ruckleman.
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