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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Not As A Stranger (1954) - Star of the month... Frank Sinatra



"Gentlemen, this is a corpse. " - Charles Bickford (as Dr. Dave Runkelman in 'Not as a Stranger')


'Not as a Stranger' is a 1954 medical drama starring Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford and Charles Bickford with Lon Chaney Jr., Lee Marvin, Harry Morgan and Mae Clarke. The melodrama was directed and produced by Stanley Kramer, with it's screenplay written by Edna and Edward Anhalt based on the novel by Morton Thompson.

'Not as a Stranger' follows a group of medical students throughout their career from their medical studies, hospital internships and eventually as physicians. Lucas Marsh (played by Mitchum) is obsessed with becoming a doctor. His medical career is put into jeopardy after his father (played by Chaney) gambles the money Lucas was left by his mother. To sponsor his medical career Lucas married wealthy older woman Kristina Hadvigson (played by de Havilland).  Throughout the film, Lucas' obsession for perfection and success causes pain and and happiness for those around him.

An outdated film with relevant themes

'Not as a Stranger' is a product of it's time with some very obvious references to the 1950s including:
  • An all-male medical class, with no female students
  • All doctors in the film are male, and all nurses in the film are female
  • Doctors and nurses openly smoking inside the hospital

Despite these outdated events, many of the central themes to the film are still relevant today, including loveless marriage into wealth for material gain, marital infidelity, father-son conflict due to alcoholism, internal drive for perfectionism and success.

Did you know...

  • This was one of the first times a real human heart was shown in a film during an open-heart surgery scene
  • This was Stanley Kramer's directorial debut
  • In preparation for their roles, Olivia de Havilland and Robert Mitchum attended a number of operations - Broderick Crawford even attended an autopsy

Award nominations

  • Academy Award nomination for Best Sound Recording
  • BAFTA Award nomination for Best Foreign Actor (Frank Sinatra)
  • National Board of Review Award winner for Best Supporting Actor (Charles Bickford)

Closing remarks

A very made and entertaining drama, albeit very long. 'Not as a Stranger' features fine dramatic performances by Mitcham, de Havilland and Sinatra. What I like about this film is unlike many other medical dramas, 'Not as a Stranger' is essentially a character study focusing primarily on the lives and relationships of the principle characters. The hospital and medical subplot as a backdrop to complete the story.

 You can watch the complete film on YouTube here: 

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