"Unwelcome Stranger" might have been a better title for this film which united Crosby and Fitzgerald again in the same kind of heartwarming comedy with music they scored with in GOING MY WAY. This time, they've doffed the collar and cassock in favor of stethoscopes and scalpels, and
instead of Crosby saving Fitzgerald's church, he saves his costar's life, with four tunes by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen tossed in for good measure. Fitzgerald, a curmudgeon (as ususal), runs a clinic in a small town and doesn't take kindly to Crosby, a recently arrived young doctor. Crosby
loves to sing, but Fitzgerald doesn't think Crosby's frequent crooning is appropriate behavior for a physican. Crosby is immediately attracted to Caulfield, a young teacher who helps out at the clinic, but she shows him scant attention and explains that she is betrothed to the local druggist. Well
aware of Fitzgerald's resentment and Caulfield's coolness, Crosby decides to depart. When Patterson, Fitzgerald's maid, learns of Crosby's decision, she prevails upon the young doctor to try to set things straight with Fitzgerald, and it isn't long before the two men begin to like and respect each
other. Fitzgerald persuades Crosby to stay, which proves fortunate when the older physician is hit with a near-fatal attack of appendicitis a few weeks later. Through the deft skill of Crosby (who is just as handy with a scalpel as he is with a song), Fitzgerald is saved and Crosby becomes a local
hero. When four boys at the local school become terribly ill, Young, a snobbish doctor slated to become the chief of surgery at the town's new hospital, rushes in to make his diagnosis. He is certain that the boys are suffering from equine encephalitis, a viral brain fever contracted from diseased
horses. Crosby and Fitzgerald don't agree. Believing there must be another answer to the stupor the young boys are in, Crosby and Fitzgerald search the school. In the locker room, they come upon the real answer--four half-smoked cigars that have laid the boys low. With Young discredited, the way
is open for Fitzgerald and Crosby to take over the running of the new medical facility.
The message of the movie is clear at once: never judge a book by its cover or a doctor by his singing. Significantly, the Crosby-Caulfield romance takes a back seat to the drama unfolding elsewhere, and the scenes between the romantic leads are not on par with those involving Crosby and
Fitzgerald. On the other hand, the supporting performances are strong, with Hendrix registering a neat portrayal of a teenager swooning over Crosby, and Patterson and Kilbride charming as flinty New Englanders. The tunes are pleasant and the square-dance production number for "Country Style" will
set many a toe tapping. WELCOME STRANGER also has a number of very funny lines, no real surprise considering that screenwriter Sheekman was once a writer for the Marx Brothers.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: "Unwelcome Stranger" might have been a better title for this film which united Crosby and Fitzgerald again in the same kind of heartwarming comedy with music they scored with in GOING MY WAY. This time, they've doffed the collar and cassock in favor of ste… (more)