AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Bad for Each Other
Alternate Title: Scalpel
Director: Irving Rapper (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1954
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 24 Dec 1953
Production Date:   23 Apr--21 May 1953
Duration (in mins):   80 or 83
Duration (in reels):   8
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Cast:   Charlton Heston (Dr. Tom Owen)  
    Lizabeth Scott (Helen Curtis)  
    Dianne Foster (Joan Lasher)  
    Mildred Dunnock (Mrs. Mary Owen)  
    Arthur Franz (Dr. Jim Crowley)  
    Ray Collins (Dan Reasonover)  
    Marjorie Rambeau (Mrs. Roger Nelson)  
    Lester Matthews (Dr. Homer Gleeson)  
    Rhys Williams (Dr. Scobee)  
    Lydia Clarke (Rita Thornburg)  
    Cris Alcaide (Pete Olzoneski)  
    Robert Keys (Joe Marzano)  
    Frank Sully (Tippy Kashko)  
    Ann Robinson (Lucille Crellett)  
    Dorothy Green (Ada Nicoletti)  
    Louise Franklin (Maid)  
    Ruth Vann (Miss Murphy)  
    Grandon Rhodes (Dr. Messenger)  
    Arlene Harris (Mrs. Norton)  
    Katherine Warren (Mrs. Cartwright)  
    Earl Lee (Upham)  
    Reid Kilpatrick (Mr. Finer)  
    Lisa Golm (Mrs. Marzano)  
    Elsie Baker (Mrs. Olzoneski)  
    Robert Johnson (Attendant)  
    Don Chaffin (Intern)  
    Peggie Leon (Mrs. Hardy)  
    Bob Bray (Trooper)  
    Roger Edgecomb    
    Valerie Vernon    
    Delia Salvi    
    Ray Boyle    
    Barbara Sutton Smith    
    Ann Staunton    
    John Fontaine    
    Bess Flowers    
    Larry Williams    
    Helen Dickson    
    Paul Bradley    
    Harold Miller    
    Phillip Ahlm    
    Blackie Whiteford    
    Alix Nagy    

Summary: Medical officer Col. Tom Owen returns to Coalville, Pennsylvania after service in Korea, but even before arriving home, hears unpleasant comments made by several men about his recently deceased brother Floyd. At home, Tom's mother Mary explains that Floyd, a mine safety engineer, was killed in a mine explosion, which many believe was caused by Floyd's use of substandard materials. Mary blames Floyd's demise on his marriage to a wealthy woman, which she believes corrupted him, but Tom rejects the notion, declaring that after their poor childhood, both he and Floyd deserved better. Determined to learn the truth about Floyd, Tom attends a party thrown by wealthy Dan Reasonover and is dismayed at the drunken frivolity of the guests, including Dan's vivacious daughter, two-time divorcĂ©e Helen Curtis. Dan confirms Mary's story about Floyd's criminal negligence, detailing his lavish lifestyle and heavy debt, much of which he owed to Dan. Despite Dan's protests, Tom vows to repay his brother's debts. When Tom assists a collapsed party-goer, his clear-headed behavior is noticed by Helen's aunt, Mrs. Roger Nelson. The next day, Tom visits local physician Dr. Scobee, who asks him to join him in tending to the Coalville miners, but Tom explains he needs to make a lot of money quickly in order to repay Floyd's debts. Helen telephones Tom for a date, during which she asks him to leave the Army and go into private practice. When Tom hesitates, she hastily arranges for him to meet with Dr. Homer Gleeson the next day at his private clinic in nearby Pittsburgh. Gleeson relays that Mrs. Nelson recommended Tom after the party and then offers Tom an associate position in his clinic. Tom points out that he is still in the Army and refuses to commit himself. Tom continues seeing Helen, who eventually convinces him that the best way to leave Coalville behind and to earn money quickly is to accept Gleeson's offer. After moving into a swank new office in Gleeson's clinic, Tom hires Joan Lasher, a dedicated young nurse. Although Joan is disappointed when Tom's practice settles into a series of benign visits from wealthy, hypochondriac matrons, she remains. One day, a former member of Tom's Army unit, Dr. Jim Crowley, visits Tom in search of a job. Although Tom barely remembers him, Jim warmly thanks him for having inspired him during the war to return to medicine. Anxious to see Helen to propose, Tom offhandedly assures Jim he will help, then promptly forgets his offer. Prodded by Joan to assist the idealistic Jim, Tom refers him to Scobee, by whom he is quickly employed. When Dan learns of Tom and Helen's engagement, he visits Tom to warn him of his daughter's destructive behavior and cautions him not to let his association with Gleeson ruin his career. Later, Jim visits Tom to ask for help evaluating several miners' x-rays, and Tom promises to speak with the men the following afternoon. Soon after, however, Gleeson asks Tom to play golf the next day with a wealthy patron and he agrees, despite Joan's appeal to see Jim. At the golf club, Tom receives a call from a worried Helen, reporting that Mrs. Nelson is ill and Gleeson cannot be located. Tom hastens to see Mrs. Nelson and diagnoses the immediate need for surgery. At the clinic, a panicked Gleeson informs Tom that he has not operated in over ten years and pleads with him to do the procedure without telling Mrs. Nelson. Tom warily accepts, but later confronts Gleeson over the ethics of the situation. Later, Tom thanks Joan for her assistance during surgery, but she chides him for serving as Gleeson's ghost-surgeon. The next day, Joan quits, despite Tom's entreaty for her to stay. When Tom learns that Joan intends to apply for work with Jim, he criticizes Jim for hiding from reality in Coalville. That afternoon, Tom is flabbergasted when Gleeson stops by to reveal that he has received a $10,000 fee from Mrs. Nelson and offers half to Tom as well as a partnership. Five weeks later, a recovered Mrs. Nelson hosts a party and takes Tom aside to thank him for saving her life. Tom attempts to pass the credit on to Gleeson, but Mrs. Nelson assures him that she knows that he performed the operation, then questions why he continues to act as Gleeson's front. The party is interrupted by an anxious call from Mary about an explosion at the Coalville mine. Tom hastens to Coalville and finds Jim and Joan inside the mine. Tom crawls into the cave to help Jim stabilize one last wounded miner and struggles to keep the collapsing roof from toppling. When Jim grows faint from inhaling too much dust, Tom takes over. Tom and Joan get the miner outside safely just as the roof gives way. Tom rushes back to pull Jim out, but Jim is gravely injured and dies in the ambulance. Tom returns to Pittsburgh determined to leave Gleeson and make a new practice in Coalville, which he now realizes will provide him the legitimate medical challenges he craves. Helen refuses to accompany him, and after the two break their engagement, Tom returns to Coalville and asks Joan if he can possibly take Jim's place. 

Production Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: Irving Rapper (Dir)
  James Nicholson (Asst dir)
Producer: William Fadiman (Assoc prod)
Writer: Irving Wallace (Scr)
  Horace McCoy (Scr)
Photography: Frank Planer (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Walter Holscher (Art dir)
Film Editor: Al Clark (Film ed)
Set Decoration: James Crowe (Set dec)
Costumes: Jean Louis (Gowns)
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
Sound: Josh Westmoreland (Sd eng)
Make Up: Clay Campbell (Makeup)
  Helen Hunt (Hair styles)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel Scalpel by Horace McCoy (Englewood, NJ, 1952).
Authors: Horace McCoy

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Columbia Pictures Corp. 1/12/1953 dd/mm/yyyy LP3124

PCA NO: 16505
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Medical
Subjects (Major): Ambition
  Coal mines
  Idle rich
  Medical ethics
Subjects (Minor): Death and dying
  Family relationships
  Fathers and daughters
  Golf and golfers
  Hero worship
  Mothers and sons
  Small town life
  United States. Army

Note: The working title of this film was Scalpel . According to 19 Dec 1950 HR and LAT news items, producer Hal Wallis purchased Horace McCoy's novel Scalpel prior to publication for $100,000, intending to cast Burt Lancaster and Patricia Neal in a Paramount production. A Jan 1953 DV item discloses that Wallis was in negotiations to sell the package rights of Scalpel to Columbia, where Jerry Wald was set to produce and Charlton Heston was to replace Lancaster. A LAT item noted that Lizabeth Scott had been considered by Wallis to star opposite Lancaster. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   26 Dec 1953.   
Daily Variety   23 Jan 1953.   
Daily Variety   9 Dec 53   p. 3.
Film Daily   16 Dec 53   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Dec 1950.   
Hollywood Reporter   24 Apr 53   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   15 May 53   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Dec 53   p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner   6 Feb 1951.   
Los Angeles Times   29 Dec 1950.   
Los Angeles Times   5 Mar 1953.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   12 Dec 53   p. 2101.
New York Times   24 Dec 53   p. 9.
Variety   9 Dec 53   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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