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Welcome Stranger

(1947 b 107')

En: 6 Ed: 6

A young doctor comes to a small town in Maine to replace a cantankerous older doctor who is going on vacation. They clash at first but eventually become good friends.

Dr. Jim Pearson (Bing Crosby) buys a newspaper and takes a train from Boston. Dr. Joe McRory (Barry Fitzgerald) thinks it is his paper and dislikes him. Then Jim eats the last trout that Joe ordered, and Joe declines to borrow pipe tobacco from Jim.

Jim gets a cab driven by Nat Dorkas (Percy Kilbride), who declines a tip. The housekeeper Mrs. Gilley (Elizabeth Patterson) welcomes Jim and tells Joe that the new doctor has arrived. Joe learns that Jim travels often, and he doubts his ability. Joe tells the schoolteacher Trudy Mason (Joan Caulfield) about Jim, who declines her advice to leave right away.

The town gathers to honor Joe for his 35 years of service, and Jim does not feel welcome. Jim volunteers to call a square-dance and sings "Country Style" as they all dance. Jim cuts in on Roy Chesley (Robert Shayne) to dance with Trudy. He dislikes Roy and his father C. J. Chesley (Charles Dingle), but Trudy says she is engaged to Roy.

Jim packs to leave and goes to say farewell to Joe, who is fishing. Jim makes suggestions, and they both catch a fish. Jim agrees to stay for two weeks. The newspaper editor Bill Walters (Frank Faylen) drinks heavily, and Jim tries to diagnose the cause of his headaches. Jim makes friends with Bill's daughter Emily (Wanda Hendrix).

Joe is leaving on his vacation but is suddenly taken ill and comes back home. Jim says he must operate to take out his appendix right away, and Trudy assists him while Joe tries to watch by a mirror. Roy is going to get Dr. Jenks and will meet Trudy on the sleigh ride. Trudy and Emily go on the sleigh ride with Jim and have a good time.

Trudy promises to meet Roy in a half hour, but she is distracted by Jim and arrives very late. Roy and Trudy quarrel, and she calls off their engagement. Roy tries to hit Jim but hurts his hand on a post; Jim prescribes ice.

Bill has stopped drinking and printed a story that the town is trying to take the new hospital away from Joe. Jim takes Bill a bottle of liquor and says that alcohol is not causing his headaches and that an operation will cure him. At the board meeting chairman C. J. Chesley proposes that they hire Dr. Jenks for the new hospital instead of Joe. Jim comes in and reminds them of their recent gratitude. The board votes to give them both a medical examination, but Joe does not want to take it.

Jim says goodbye to Trudy, but she coaxes him into staying to help Joe prepare for the exam. Jim helps Joe study, but Dr. Jenks finishes the exam sooner. Word comes that four boys at school are suddenly sick. Dr. Jenks diagnoses equine encephalitis or contagious virus brain fever, and C. J. Chesley calls his congressman to get a vaccine for the town. Meanwhile Joe figures out that the four boys have been smoking cigars and prescribes a hair brush applied to their rear ends. Suddenly they are better. Joe says he will not work in the hospital unless Jim is his assistant, and Trudy indicates she will marry Jim, who then decides to stay.

This sentimental comedy shows how a kind and patient man can win over a crotchety old man with a good heart while satirizing the laconic and reserved Yankees.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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