Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Olivia de Havilland
NOT AS A STRANGER (1955). Producer/director: Stanley Kramer.

"Chris, help me, for God's sake, help me." --Lucas Marsh.

Lucas Marsh (Robert Mitchum) is determined to be a doctor but hasn't got the financial backing he needs to continue his internship. To get the money he romances the adoring Swedish nurse, Kristina (Olivia de Havilland), who has saved up quite a bit of money. The two get married, Lucas is able to complete his studies, and the couple relocate to a small town where Lucas becomes assistant to the aging family doctor, Dave Runkleman (Charles Bickford). Then there's the complication of the seductive Widow Lang (Gloria Grahame). Will Lucas ever be able to feel an honest and profound love for his wife? Not as a Stranger is a nice picture with winning performances, with Mitchum [Angel Face] doing some of the best work of his career. De Havilland [The Dark Mirror] is on the mark as Kris, as is Grahame, but she is given so little to do that it's a wonder her character was even included. It's also a mystery why Frank Sinatra [The Kissing Bandit] took the role of Al, Lucas' intern-buddy, as it's really a relatively minor supporting part. When Sinatra and Mitchum are on screen together, Frank looks unbelievably scrawny in contrast, which the crooner must have hated, but his performance is fine. Lon Chaney Jr. is not memorable as Lucas' drunken father, playing it in too obvious and phony a fashion, but Gertrude Hoffman has a nice bit as an old woman who tells the doctor that she has nowhere to go. The film introduces some weighty matters -- is the doctor's job just to keep people alive no matter what even when they're ready to let go? -- but never quite gets a grip on them. People in the doctor's office  include everyone from Nancy Kulp to Alfalfa! Lee Marvin and Mae Clarke have smaller roles as nurse and intern. Broderick Crawford offers a gruff but interesting performance as Lucas' and Al's teacher in the early hospital scenes. Franz Planer's photography is excellent, and it could be said that George Antheil's score is more than partly responsible for the whole success of the movie.

Verdict: Some moving moments and an interesting story, with a very well-cast and effective Mitchum. ***.


angelman66 said...

This one looks like a winner--deHavilland and Mitchum? Verry interesting, especially in a story helmed by Stanley Kramer. I look forward to it!

William said...

Hope you enjoy it!