April 2, 2018  (Web Review)

Not as a Stranger

Kino Lorber, 135 min., not rated, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Olivia de Havilland and Robert Mitchum star in this 1955 medical soap opera that follows the trajectory of idealistic student Lucas Marsh (Mitchum) from med school through private practice in a small town. Passionate and pious, Marsh treats every mistake as a potential crime and holds everyone (himself included) to a standard impossible to sustain. De Havilland adopts a dubious Swedish accent to play the nurse who falls for the impoverished Marsh. She lends the dedicated idealist money to finish his schooling and he marries her out of a sense of duty but keeps her at an emotional distance, making him susceptible to the advances of a lonely society wife (Gloria Grahame) who smolders with desire for the handsome doctor. Frank Sinatra costars as the roommate, best friend, and class clown who comes to Marsh’s aid in his time of personal crisis. Adapted from Morton Thompson’s titular soapy 1954 bestselling novel, this marks the directorial debut of producer Stanley Kramer, who favored literary properties with social messages. Unfortunately, Kramer’s direction is clumsy and ponderous, while his earnestness turns the story into high-minded melodrama with a heavy-handed message. But it does boast a strong cast (Broderick Crawford, Charles Bickford, and Lee Marvin are among the costars) and the star power will interest fans of classic movies. Bowing on Blu-ray with an audio commentary by film historian Troy Howarth, this is an optional purchase. (S. Axmaker)