In the small town of Liberty Hill, a schoolmistress has taught geography for several generations at Cedar Grove School. Famous for her impartial justice, inflexible regulations, calm neutral eyes and perfect punctuality, she is known as "the terrible Miss Dove". Everyone in the street greets her on the way to school each day. One spring morning while preparing the pupils for the state proficiency tests she feels a sharp pain in her back, but tries to bear it with fortitude. At lunch time, she can no longer ignore its severity and sends David out of detention to fetch the doctor. Dr Thomas Baker, an ex-pupil, insists that she go to hospital immediately. To avoid the jolting of a car, he and David's father carry her there through the town, attracting much attention. At the hospital, another ex-pupil, Billie Jean Green, is assigned to her as a nurse.
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While waiting Miss Dove recalls the past, when the sudden death of her father left her with a heavy debt which forced her to pursue a career in teaching instead of marrying and travelling the world. She remembers her former pupils, especially William Holloway, a poor boy whose innate ethical sense she recognized, who had joined the Marines after graduating, then returned to Liberty Hill to become a policeman, keeping in touch with her all through the years. He is the first to send her flowers. She also thinks about Virginia, Thomas's wife, who had once sought her advice after an unhappy love affair, and is now expecting a baby. Her interest in her pupils' characters and her desire to inspire them with purpose is the guiding principle of her life.
Several of her ex-pupils visit, one even absconding from prison to see her, and many others wait at the hospital door for news of her condition. X-rays are taken and many other tests performed, and after much frustration at being kept in the dark Miss Dove learns that she needs an operation. The Rotary Club president, who knows that she saved the town from bankruptcy during the Depression, offers to pay for any surgeon she desires, but she chooses to trust Thomas, remembering his skilful hands as a child.
The review of this Movie prepared by Maureen Evans