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A controversial doctor gets mixed up with an unwed mother.
One morning, narrow-minded Professor Rodney Elwell questions housekeeper Sarah Pickett about Dr. Noah Praetorius, one of Elwell's fellow professors at a prestigious medical school. Elwell is jealous of Praetorius, whose unorthodox, humanist views make him popular with patients and students, and is pleased with the information Sarah provides about Praetorius' stay in her rural town years earlier. Sarah also reveals information about Praetorius' mysterious companion, a large, quiet man named Shunderson. Because Elwell is busy, Praetorius substitutes for him in his anatomy class, where a lovely young woman, Deborah Higgins, faints during the lecture. Praetorius, then goes to his clinic, where he reprimands a lax nurse, telling her that patients are sick people, not inmates. The last patient of the day is Deborah, and her tests indicate that she is pregnant. Deborah is devastated and confides in Praetorius that she is not married, and is pregnant by a boyfriend who was killed in military service overseas. Praetorius advises Deborah to seek help from her father, and although Deborah states that he is an understanding man, she insists that she cannot burden him with her mistake. Praetorius then wonders if Deborah had hoped he would terminate the pregnancy, but Deborah asserts that she would not buy her father's peace of mind at the cost of Praetorius', then leaves. While Praetorius ponders the dilemma, he hears a gunshot in the hallway, and rushes out to find that Deborah has shot herself. Her wound is not life-threatening, however, and Praetorius saves her with a simple surgery. Shunderson, Praetorius' confidante in all matters, predicts that Deborah will attempt suicide again, and later, when Deborah awakens, Praetorius lies, telling her that the test was incorrect and that she is not pregnant. Deborah, who has fallen in love with the handsome, compassionate doctor, is embarrassed about the revelation of her pre-marital sex, and leaves the clinic that night. Meanwhile, Praetorius discusses the situation with his friend, Professor Lionel Barker, a scientist, who warns him that Elwell is trying to bring charges of unsuitability against him before the university's faculty committee. Praetorius dismisses Barker's concerns, and a few days later, drives with Shunderson to the farm where Deborah lives with her father Arthur and his penny-pinching brother John. Although Praetorius intends to tell Arthur about Deborah's pregnancy, Arthur's wry remark that he has been a failure in life and is now dependent upon John's reluctant charity prevents Praetorius from revealing the truth. When Deborah and Praetorius are alone, she admits her love for him, then teases the doctor into revealing that he reciprocates her affections. Surprised and delighted by his feelings, Praetorius insists that Deborah immediately leave with him to be married in New York. While the couple are in New York, Elwell receives word from Coonan, a private detective, that in 1917, Shunderson was put on trial for murder. Soon after, Shunderson tells Praetorius that Coonan took a photograph of him, and offers to leave so that the doctor's career and new marriage will not be endangered. Praetorius refuses to accept his friend's sacrifice, then returns home, where he, Arthur and Lionel play with the toy train set that Deborah has given him for his birthday. While the men play, Elwell comes to the house and informs Deborah that Praetorius is going to be charged with practicing medicine in an illicit manner. Deborah coolly shows Elwell the door, then questions her husband, who assures her that he is innocent. Deborah, who admits to being very emotional recently, then wonders if she could be pregnant, even though they have only been married for two weeks. Praetorius then reveals that she has been pregnant all along. Deborah is horrified and believes that Praetorius married her out of pity, but he convinces her that he loves both her and the coming baby. Later, on the night that Praetorius is to conduct the student orchestra's concert, Elwell succeeds in convening a faculty hearing to interrogate him. While Deborah and Shunderson wait with the impatient audience, Praetorius admits to the committee that he worked in Sarah's village as a butcher, while practicing medicine on the side, because the country folk distrusted "book doctors." Although Elwell accuses Praetorius of lying to the people he helped, the doctor defends himself by saying that he merely enhanced their own faith in themselves. When Elwell questions him about Shunderson, Praetorius refuses to answer, but Shunderson enters the room and volunteers to tell his story. Shunderson then states that many years earlier, he killed a friend who had an affair with Shunderson's sweetheart and then framed him for murder. After Shunderson was unjustly hanged for the crime, his body was given to Praetorius, then a medical student studying anatomy. Shunderson was not dead, however, and after Praetorius revived him, the older man dedicated his life to serving the man who had saved him. Dean Lyman Brockwell then dismisses Elwell's charges as nonsense, and Praetorius begins the concert. As Deborah happily watches her husband, she feels her baby kick and smiles in delight.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 Aug 1951|
|Release Date:||1951||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
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WOW I loved this movie!!
I've been watching TCM Since it came on the air, and I had never seen this movie! I LOVED IT! It was suspenseful waiting to learn about "what...
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This is the first time that I have seen this movie and I've been watching TCM for many years. I thought it was terrific - well acted and you...
Mike McCrann 2016-10-26
I absolutely love this film. It is one of the most unusual and fascinating films of the 50s and considering the year it was made (1951) quite daring. With...