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The Last Angry Man

The Last Angry Man(1959)

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One night in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, delinquent teenager Josh Quincy and his gang leave a brutally attacked young black woman on the doorstep of Dr. Sam Abelman. Sam, a physician dedicated to helping his neighbors regardless of their ability to pay, arranges for the girl to be taken to a hospital. The next day, Sam's nephew, Myron Malkin, a copyboy, convinces his editor to publish an article in which he dubs Sam a "Good Samaritan of the slum." Woodrow Wilson Thrasher, a harried producer for a national television network, reads the article over his breakfast of Dexedrine pills and conceives of a plan to feature Sam in his new series on America's "unsung heroes," and tie in the pharmaceutical company that sponsors the show. Woody goes to Brooklyn but fails to interest Sam in his proposition. While he is there, one of Sam's black neighbors, Mrs. Quincy, brings in her son Josh, who has been suffering from convulsions and is terrified of the doctor. Woody and Myron peek through a curtain and observe as Sam skillfully calms Josh, who threatens him with a knife. Woody makes his proposal to the television show's sponsor, Lyman Gattling, who approves of connecting his company with an altruistic physician. Although Myron promises to obtain Sam's consent, Sam proves intransigent. At Myron's suggestion, Woody contacts Sam's best friend, Dr. Max Vogel, a wealthy specialist, with whom Sam consults on Josh's case. Woody surreptitiously meets with Max while he is fishing, but Max, protective of his self-sacrificing friend, refuses to help him unless the network offers Sam compensation. At Max's suggestion, Woody convinces Gattling to purchase a small house for Sam in a better neighborhood, which the physician has had his eye on for some time. As Sam has already put a down payment on the house, Woody makes arrangements for the real estate agent to refund the down payment, without Sam's knowledge, and keep the network's purchase a secret. Woody plans to shoot the show at Sam's house, and brings a film crew to interview neighbors and rehearse. Sam, however, departs suddenly when he learns that Josh has had another attack. Woody accompanies him to the market where Josh lies temporarily paralyzed, but the teenager runs away after he recovers, and Sam sadly realizes that the boy has a brain tumor. When Woody asks why Sam is loyal to an "ingrate" like Josh, Sam replies "because he is my patient." Woody's wife Anne, meanwhile, becomes increasingly distraught over her husband's obsession with financial success no matter the cost. The next day, the entire neighborhood gathers at Sam's house as they shoot a rehearsal, and when the camera is turned on Sam, he gives his frank opinion about commercialism and the medical profession. Shortly after, Woody's boss insists that Woody curb Sam's opinions, and tells him that slips will be inserted into all Gattling products so that "Mr. and Mrs. America" can pay for Sam's house. Woody realizes that Sam will be publicly humiliated by the new plan, and tells Sam the truth. Sam is outraged that Woody and the studio have tried to "buy" him, as it runs counter to his high ethical standards, and cancels the show. Woody's boss immediately fires him for losing Sam, but Gattling is impressed by Sam's honesty, and insists that Woody obtain Sam's approval to do the show without compensation. Sam consents, but just before shooting begins, he is called to the police station, where Josh has been taken, having stolen and crashed a car following surgery. Sam tends to Josh and lectures him on personal responsibility, but the youth is unresponsive. Sam, disheartened, leaves, but turns back when Josh calls out an apology as he struggles out of his cell, which has been left open. Sam heads up the stairs toward Josh, but is felled by a heart attack. Woody brings Sam home and cancels the show, after which Max hooks Sam up to an electrocardiograph machine. Woody experiences a moral reawakening and finally embraces Sam's philosophy. Anne joins him in Brooklyn, and he tells her he is leaving his job to return to a less competitive environment. Sam dies, and as Max writes the cause of death as coronary occlusion, he mutters to himself that Sam really died from winning other people's battles.