The Young Doctors (1961)

The Young Doctors
Directed by Phil Karlson
Written by Joseph Hayes from a novel by Arthur Hailey
1961/USA
Millar/Turman Productions; Drexel Films
First viewing/YouTube

“The life so short, the craft so long to learn.” ― Hippocrates

The AMA must have loved, perhaps sponsered, this homage to the medical profession.  It’s an entertaining little melodrama.

Joseph Pearson (Fredric March) has become an institution as head of the pathology department at a Manhattan hospital.  He relishes meetings at which he can upbraid other doctors for wrong diagnoses revealed in his post mortems.  At the same time, there have been complaints about delays in test results from his team.  Pearson blames any perceived failures on hospital bureaucracy that consistently denies him requested personnel and supplies. The administration decides to inject new blood into the department in the form of Dr. David Coleman (Ben Gazarra).

Dr. Pearson is a prickly old coot, resents Coleman’s hiring, and makes it clear he is boss and is not going anywhere.  This means he is also resistant to any suggestions of newfangled methods or tests in pathology.  During the course of the story we get a romance and several medical crises.  With Dick Clark as a young doctor who is also an expectant father, Eddie Arnold as an obstetrician, Ina Balin as a nurse/patient/love interest, and Aline MacMahon as an old hand.

This is one of those pictures where everyone who is not a doctor is a patient and every patient is possibly terminal.  You can see the influence on TV shows and soaps such as Dr. Kildaire, Ben Casey, and The Young Doctors.  Despite a lot of inserted speeches expounding on the ideals of the medical profession, the film makes for a nice easy afternoon watch.

Montage of stills