Strange Lady in Town (1955): Mervyn LeRoy’s Western Melodrama, Starring Greer Garson as Earnest Doctor

One of Greer Garson’s last star vehicles, Strange Lady in Town, directed by Mervyn LeRoy, sees her playing a doctor who plans to introduce modern techniques of medicine in Santa Fe circa 1880.

Grade: C (** out of *****)

Strange Lady in Town
Strange Lady in Town.jpg

Dr. Julia Garth, traveling from Boston, arrives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where her brother David is a U.S. Cavalry lieutenant. She soon meets the town’s respected physician, Dr. Rourke O’Brien, and Father Gabriel Mendoza, who has established new hospital.

Spurs O’Brien, the doctor’s tomboy niece who has a crush on David, helps Julia buy a horse and teaches her to ride. Julia’s patients include a boy with vision problems, but she continues to encounter resistance from Dr. O’Brien, who doesn’t believe women should be practicing medicine.

David shoots a man who accuses him of cheating at cards, pleading self-defense. Dr. O’Brien can’t help but admire and be attracted to Julia, but she declines his marriage proposal, citing prejudice toward women as the reason she had left Boston. He is irritated again when Julia gives medical advice to his distinguished patient, New Mexico’s governor, General Lew Wallace.

At a party, David strikes an Army captain who accuses him of cheating and rustling. David admits to Julia that the charges are true, then robs a bank and rides off.

Julia and Spurs then talk David into surrendering, whereupon he is shot. Julia plans to leave New Mexico until Dr. O’Brien speaks up on her behalf.

The slight, predictable story benefits from on location shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

Greer Garson as Dr. Julia Garth
Dana Andrews as Dr. Rourke O’Brien
Cameron Mitchell as Lt. David Garth
Walter Hampden as Father Gabriel
Lois Smith as Spurs
James Stephenson as Capt. Taggart
Adele Jergens as Bella
Gregory Walcott as Scanlon
Ralph Moody as Gov. Lew Wallace
Nick Adams as Billy the Kid
Paul Wexler as Townsman


Produced, directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Written by Frank Butler
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Harold Rosson
Edited by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Warner Bros.

Release date: April 12, 1955

Running time: 112 minutes


TCM showed this movie on Sep 16, 2020.