A year in the life of a group of interns in a big city hospital guided by the wise internist (Buddy Ebsen) and the irascible, woman-hating surgeon (Telly Savalas). Contortionist posturing designed to lead to desired residencies is the major theme. The only female intern, and the most brilliant of the lot, wants to be a surgeon, but she is repeatedly belittled by the surgical chief until he realizes--not that she is good--but that she is the sole support of a daughter.

Another intern falls in love with a young Asian patient and at her death resolves to work in her country. A crisis emerges around the overdose of a suicidal patient with syringomyelia; all the interns are held responsible until they rather brutally force a confession from the man's wife. Friends throughout medical school, Lou Worship (James MacArthur) and Sean Otis (Cliff Robertson) plan to become surgeons and open a clinic for the poor. Otis falls for a glamorous model, while Worship is smitten with obstetrics and a student nurse (Stephanie Powers).

Forsaking the original plan, Worship applies to obstetrics, pressures his fiancee to sacrifice her dream of an international career, and tells on Otis when he discovers that he is helping his girlfriend abort her unwanted child. His career ruined, Otis marries the irretrievably pregnant woman and expresses his admiration to Worship for doing the right thing.


Despite its having been made less than four decades ago, the teaching interest in this mediocre film is historical. It deals with issues that continue to have considerable resonance--abortion, euthanasia, women and work; yet, it is startlingly dated because the responses to these issues now seem to be all wrong.

Like a madam in white, the chief nurse arranges boozy parties and "provides" nubile students to assuage the loneliness of the macho but "lovable" interns. The wife's yielding to her husband's constant plea is presented as a double crime, offending both the law and the instrinsically good, young doctors.

Intended by the filmmakers to be a everyday kind of hero, Worship's behavior no longer inspires; instead, it raises important questions about the social and temporal contingencies of moral action, especially now, when abortion is legal, mercy killers avoid jail, women are encouraged to pursue their goals, doctors are no longer automatic heroes (nor do they smoke on the job), and ratting on friends reminds us of the Gestapo.


Based on the novel by Richard Frede.

Primary Source

Columbia Tristar Home Video