By Richard Winters
My Rating: 6 out of 10
4-Word Review: Training to become doctors.
Based on the Richard Frede novel the film looks at a group of medical students going through a rigorous first year internship at the New North Hospital. All aspects of an intern’s experience are analyzed from their various moral quandaries to dealing with deaths of patients that they’ve become attached to and even sexism. We also get a glimpse of their private lives from their relationships and stresses to even their partying.
Although the film is entertaining and well-paced it is a bit too much like a soap opera. This comes to a particular head during the relationship sequences. The characters seem to fall in love at first glance and the word ‘love’ gets expressed excessively until it becomes as irritating to hear as nails on a chalkboard. It also has a mentality that every character ‘must’ magically find their life mate even if it seems particularly forced like with John (Cliff Robertson) who relentlessly chases after fashion model Lisa (Suzy Parker) even though she continually gives him the cold shoulder and the two can’t agree on anything including her need for an abortion from a unwanted pregnancy she had with another man. Alec’s (Michael Callan) is the only thread in this area that works as he proceeds to try to juggle two at the same time and the way he avoids a confrontation with the two while at a party is amusing.
There are some good scenes and even memorable moments. The best is when Lew (James MacArthur) finds an interest in obstetrics and delivers his first baby. The acrimonious relationship between Dr. Riccio (wonderfully played as usual by Telly Savalas who has hair here and isn’t completely bald as he usually is) and Dr. Bruckner (Haya Harareet) who he looks down upon simply because she is a woman, but eventually learns to respect is great. I also liked the party sequence the one moment in the film that gets lighthearted especially when 37 people try to cram themselves into a small closet in order to beat the world record.
The cast is interesting and eclectic. One can spot either an older veteran actor, up-and-coming star, or famous character actor in literally every shot. Robertson who sometimes comes off as stiff gives a strong all-around performance, which may be his best. MacArthur who would later costar in the long running series ‘Hawaii Five-O’ is also really good. Buddy Ebsen does well as a wise-cracking chief surgeon and it is great seeing the very young and beautiful Stefanie Powers as a nurse. John Banner who would later become famous for playing the incompetent prison guard Shultz on the long-running sitcom ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ can also be seen, but he is not given a single line of dialogue.
The film is glossy, but still compelling and if anything gives the viewer a good taste of what life of a medical intern is like. In 1965 the film was followed by a sequel The New Interns, which will be reviewed next Sunday.
My Rating: 6 out of 10
Released: August 8, 1962
Director: David Swift
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Available: VHS, DVD