Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Broderick Crawford, and Gloria Grahame in Not as a Stranger (1955)


(director/producer: Stanley Kramer; screenwriters: from the book by Morton C. Thompson/Edna Anhalt/Edward Anhalt; cinematographer: Franz Planer; editor: Frederic Knudtson; music: George Antheil; cast: Robert Mitchum (Lucas Marsh), Olivia de Havilland (Kristina Hedvigson), Charles Bickford (Dr. Runkleman), Frank Sinatra (Alfred Boone), Broderick Crawford (Dr. Aarons, Medical Professor), Lee Marvin (Brundage), Henry Morgan (Oley), Gloria Graham (Harriet Lang), Lon Chaney Jr. (Job Marsh, Lucas’ Father); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: NR; United Artists; 1955)


Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Producer Stanley Kramer’s debut as a director in this medical melodrama is well-meaning but, nevertheless, lands as kitsch. It’s based on the bestseller by Morton C. Thompson and scripted by Edna and Edward Anhalt. It’s unfortunate that a great cast is miscast. Do you for a minute believe Sinatra, Marvin, and Mitchum are doctors? Bickford is the only one who seems properly cast as a doctor. The film follows several medical students, from trying hospital internships to separate careers as doctors. The young doctors have money problems that interfere with their dedication to a very serious profession. Their lives are also complicated by relationships with women, their colleagues and their older teachers. In the case of Broderick Crawford, he’s cast as a Jewish doctor who is denied promotions because of his religion.

Mitchum is the ambitious, selfish and arrogant medical student who marries the older plain looking Olivia de Havilland, not out of love but so his wife can support him through medical school. De Havilland is the Swedish nurse who loves Mitchum, but he’s indifferent to her and loves nothing but his vocation. He cold-shoulders everyone – including best pal Frank Sinatra and alcoholic dad Lon Chaney Jr. – basing his relationships on how he can use people. He gets through his training phase with honors and becomes an assistant to gruff-on-the-outside but tender-on-the-inside small-town doc Charles Bickford. Soon he begins an affair with wealthy Gloria Grahame. But things change when his mentor, Bickford, has a heart attack and he can’t save him. Feeling insecure about his abilities for the first time, he returns to the city to consult the now prominent NYC doctor Sinatra for heartfelt advice.

All that’s left is to wait and see how Mitchum gets his comeuppance in this laborious and undemanding soap-opera tale.