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God Is My Partner

God Is My Partner(1957)

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In the small town of Riverview, Dr. Charles Grayson, an aging, venerated surgeon, is accused of mental incompetence by his nephews, Kent and Benton Grayson, who obtain an injunction against their uncle, restraining him from spending his assets. The nephews hire attorney Gordon Palmer to represent them, and during the competency hearing, Palmer calls a number of witnesses to prove that the doctor is incapable of handling his affairs. The first witness whom Palmer calls is Jess Northrop, the bank president, who recalls the doctor's unusual request to transfer $10,000 to a special account earmarked for the needy, called "Uncle Charlie's Fund." Next, Mr. Johnson, the owner of a nursery, takes the stand and describes Charlie's strange purchase of a Christmas tree in May, and his plan to festoon it with twenty-dollar bills. Palmer next calls Louis "The Lump" Lumpkin, an unemployed thief, to impugn the doctor's competence for associating with the likes of Louis. Louis recounts his fortuitous meeting of the doctor in the park one day, when he felt persecuted and without faith in his fellow man. The doctor, sensing Louis' malaise, gave him fifty dollars to turn his life around. A few days later, Louis brought Mrs. Dalton, a destitute widow, to the doctor's office to ask him to pay for a funeral for her beloved Freddie. Palmer then undercuts Louis' testimony by revealing that Freddie was a cat, implying that the doctor was conned. The doctor's housekeepers, the Biddles, testify next, and John Biddle implies that the Rev. William Goodwin manipulated their employer to make a $50,000 donation to the church. Court is adjourned after the doctor's nephews take the stand and relate their alarm over their uncle's sudden request to sell $50,000 dollars in assets to give to the church. The next day, a private investigator takes the stand and describes the doctor's furtive meetings with "Long Shot" Ben Renson, a former bookie. Palmer concludes with a final witness, Dr. Walburton, a psychiatrist who diagnoses the doctor as senile. The doctor's defense is launched by his niece, Frances Denning, who portrays all the previous testimony as half-truths. To rebut those half-truths, Frances calls Mrs. Dalton's doctor, who states that Mrs. Dalton's life of impoverishment and deprivation, intensified by the death of her beloved cat, was transformed by the doctor's generosity, which allowed her to rehabilitate herself into a well-adjusted and self-sufficient woman. Renson next testifies that the doctor advanced him $1,000 to establish a legitimate newsstand business, and helped him to escape a life of crime. Called to the stand, the Rev. Goodwin relates that he approached the doctor one year earlier to perform nearly impossible brain surgery to save the life of a young boy named Danny. Although Charlie objected he was too old to operate, he later relented and saved Danny's life. His success made the doctor realize that God had given him the talent to become a great surgeon, and so he resolved to give something back to the church. Upon learning that Danny missed Christmas because of his illness, the doctor decided to throw a Christmas party in the children's ward, and decorated a tree with twenty-dollar bills as gifts. Goodwin recalls: Posing as Santa Claus, Louis dispenses the money, while amply stuffing his own pockets with the bills. When the cash runs out, the children are driven to tears, and Louis, moved by the consequences of his behavior, empties his wallet to soothe them. Testifying in his own defense, the doctor states that after he decided to make a large donation to the church, the reverend visited him to ascertain whether the donation was born of impulse. When Palmer cross-examines the doctor and tries to paint the minister as manipulative, the doctor asserts that without God, there is nothing. Frances next calls Palmer to the stand and asks if he has ever given money to charitable organizations. When he answers in the affirmative, Frances asks what motivated him, and after he is unable to reply, she rests her case, and all ends happily as the jury rules in the doctor's favor.