|Ben Gazzara and Fredric March|
Dr. Joseph Pearson (Fredric March) is an experienced pathologist who finds himself with a new, younger colleague, Dr. David Coleman (Ben Gazzara). David sees a lot that's wrong with the operation in the hospital, but Pearson tells him that he has tried to do the things he suggests but is always told it costs too much money. Experienced, but hopelessly set in his ways, Joseph scoffs at the thought of a certain blood test for a pregnant woman that David feels is crucial, and he prevents the test from being made. Even as this is going on, David discovers that a nurse he is falling for, Cathy (Ina Balin) may face the loss of a leg due to bone cancer. While some of the medical information in The Young Doctors has to be taken with a grain of salt due to advances in medicine over the past fifty years, the picture works on an emotional and dramatic level and is not just a schlocky soap opera like many of the subsequent doctor movies that were made afterward. March is excellent, although he perhaps makes some odd choices in how he plays some of the final sequences. Gazzara [A Rage to Live] is also quite good, although he's never what you could call a charm boy in his romantic scenes, but Ina Balin [The Patsy] is as lovely and efficient as ever as nurse Cathy. Another fine performance is from Eddie Albert, doing some of the best work of his career as another doctor, particularly in a tense, beautifully-done sequence when he operates on a baby that nearly dies. There's also surprisingly good work from Dick Clark as yet another doctor who is the father of said baby, and Aline MacMahon [Babbitt] scores as Dr. Lucy Grainger, who ministers to Cathy. Elmer Bernstein has contributed a nice score as well. Based on "The Final Diagnosis" by Arthur Hailey. The same year that this popular film was released came the debut of two famous TV medical dramas, Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey.
Verdict: Very absorbing drama with several expert performances and decided emotional impact. ***1/2.