Critical Condition (1987)

R | 100 mins | Comedy-drama | 16 January 1987

Director:

Michael Apted

Producers:

Ted Field, Robert Cort

Cinematographer:

Ralf Bode

Production Designer:

John Lloyd
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HISTORY

End credits state: “The Producers wish to gratefully acknowledge the following for their cooperation in the making of this film: North Carolina Film Office; William Arnold and Paula Wyrick; High Point Regional Hospital; Sidney A. Gayle, Jr.; Jake Froelich; Albert J. Whitlock; Piedmont Airlines; U.S. Coast Guard Support Center, Governor’s Island, New York; Ruff Hewn of High Point; Anastasia Furs of Winston-Salem.”
       The great New York City blackout of 1977 and the failure of Bellevue Hospital’s backup generator was the inspiration for Critical Condition. Promotional material in AMPAS library files indicates that producer Ted Field was long fascinated by blackouts and collected many clippings about the New York City one. He gave that clipping file to screenwriters Denis Hamill and John Hamill, who had previously written the script of Turk 182! (1985, see entry) for Field’s Interscope Communications production company. The pair turned out a first draft of the screenplay in seven days, then spent another eighteen months on revisions as director Michael Apted and actor Richard Pryor both requested changes upon coming aboard. The 12 Feb 1986 Var reported that Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz also worked on the script, but neither receive onscreen credit.
       Locating a hospital for filming proved difficult until producers found two suitable hospitals in North Carolina, one in Tarboro, another in High Point. The about-to-be demolished High Point Memorial Hospital was selected because of convenient access to the regional airport in nearby Greensboro. When filming was completed, the hospital was torn down to create a parking lot for the new High Point Regional Hospital next door.
       After a week of rehearsal in High Point, ... More Less

End credits state: “The Producers wish to gratefully acknowledge the following for their cooperation in the making of this film: North Carolina Film Office; William Arnold and Paula Wyrick; High Point Regional Hospital; Sidney A. Gayle, Jr.; Jake Froelich; Albert J. Whitlock; Piedmont Airlines; U.S. Coast Guard Support Center, Governor’s Island, New York; Ruff Hewn of High Point; Anastasia Furs of Winston-Salem.”
       The great New York City blackout of 1977 and the failure of Bellevue Hospital’s backup generator was the inspiration for Critical Condition. Promotional material in AMPAS library files indicates that producer Ted Field was long fascinated by blackouts and collected many clippings about the New York City one. He gave that clipping file to screenwriters Denis Hamill and John Hamill, who had previously written the script of Turk 182! (1985, see entry) for Field’s Interscope Communications production company. The pair turned out a first draft of the screenplay in seven days, then spent another eighteen months on revisions as director Michael Apted and actor Richard Pryor both requested changes upon coming aboard. The 12 Feb 1986 Var reported that Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz also worked on the script, but neither receive onscreen credit.
       Locating a hospital for filming proved difficult until producers found two suitable hospitals in North Carolina, one in Tarboro, another in High Point. The about-to-be demolished High Point Memorial Hospital was selected because of convenient access to the regional airport in nearby Greensboro. When filming was completed, the hospital was torn down to create a parking lot for the new High Point Regional Hospital next door.
       After a week of rehearsal in High Point, principal photography began on 17 Mar 1986 in New York City, according to the 1 Apr 1986 HR production chart. The crew spent a week filming exteriors on Governors Island in New York Harbor, then returned to High Point for eight weeks of filming inside the hospital. Production wrapped on 13 May 1986.
       Critical Condition opened on 16 Jan 1987 on 1,343 screens, earning $10.7 million in its first ten days of release, according to the 28 Jan 1987 Var box-office report.
       With the opening on those 1,343 screens, Paramount Pictures set a new industry record by having its films playing on more than 6,400 screens at once, the 16 Jan 1987 HR reported. In addition to Critical Condition, Paramount also had Star Trek IV (1986, see entry), The Golden Child (1986, see entry) and Crocodile Dundee (1986) playing. Warner Bros. previously held the record which it set in summer 1985 with 6,277 screens.
More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 1987
p. 3, 101.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jan 1987
p. 1.
New York Times
16 Jan 1987
p. 16.
Variety
12 Feb 1986
p. 16.
Variety
21 Jan 1987
p. 16.
Variety
28 Jan 1987.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and
as the Helicopter Junkie
Ralf D. Bode
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PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Ted Field - Robert Cort Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Unit prod mgr, New York unit
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
Story
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Chief lighting tech
1st company grip
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
Asst chief lighting tech
Chief rigging gaffer
Lighting tech
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Cam trainee
Chief lighting tech, New York unit
1st company grip, New York unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Prod illustrator
Art dir, New York unit
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Set des
Const coord
Paint supv
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Lead person
Prop master, New York unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Seamstress
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Supv sd ed
Boom op
Utility sd
Supv ADR ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
ADR mixer
Audio programming
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec vis eff by
Spec eff, New York unit
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Addl casting
Prod assoc
Prod admin
Scr supv
Voice casting
Extra casting
Casting asst
Casting asst
Prod secy
Prod secy
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Asst auditor
Tech advisor
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Regional liaison
Asst to Mr. Larson
Craft service
AFI intern
Caterer
Caterer
Transportation coord
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Exec asst to Mr. Pryor
Asst to Mr. Pryor
Asst to Mr. Pryor
Asst to Mr. Pryor
Hospital maintenance
Hospital liaison
Prod office coord, New York unit
Regional liaison, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Transportation capt, New York unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt helicopter pilot
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Ride Of The Walkyries,” written by Richard Wagner, performed by The Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Georg Solti, courtesy of London Records, a division of Polygram Classics, Inc.
“Party All The Time,” written by Rick James.
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 January 1987
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 January 1987
Production Date:
17 March--13 May 1986
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
13 March 1987
Copyright Number:
PA318232
Physical Properties:
Sound
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® cam by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
28413
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, real estate investor Kevin Lenahan has a hair-brained scheme to buy a thirty-two screen movie theater complex in which each theater only has eighteen seats. When banks deny his loan request, he approaches a loan shark named Palazzi, who is actually a gangster. Police raid Palazzi’s office while Kevin is making his loan request and arrest him in the process. Kevin’s lawyer works out a plea deal by which Kevin will only do one year in prison, but Palazzi, who has vowed revenge, will be in the same prison, serving a ten-year sentence. In the courtroom, Kevin pretends to be insane to avoid going to prison. The court sends him to Empire General Hospital for evaluation. When psychiatrists determine he is faking his mental condition, hospital administrator Arthur Chambers plans to send Kevin back to jail in the morning. Meanwhile, Hurricane Sam approaches New York City. Since Empire General is located on a small island in New York harbor, Maggie, the head nurse, requests some of her nurses remain overnight in case there are problems, but Chambers refuses the overtime request. He tells his administrative assistant, Rachel Atwood, that a fill-in emergency room doctor, Edward Slattery, will arrive shortly to help out. When Kevin starts a ruckus in the psychiatric wing, Chambers tells guards to lock him in a private room for the night. When the other psych patients protest Kevin’s punishment, Chambers threatens to have them all transferred to a hospital for the criminally insane. Just then, the hurricane knocks out the electricity. The patients take this opportunity to escape, locking Chambers and the guards in the psych ward. Kevin goes to Chambers’ office ... +


In New York City, real estate investor Kevin Lenahan has a hair-brained scheme to buy a thirty-two screen movie theater complex in which each theater only has eighteen seats. When banks deny his loan request, he approaches a loan shark named Palazzi, who is actually a gangster. Police raid Palazzi’s office while Kevin is making his loan request and arrest him in the process. Kevin’s lawyer works out a plea deal by which Kevin will only do one year in prison, but Palazzi, who has vowed revenge, will be in the same prison, serving a ten-year sentence. In the courtroom, Kevin pretends to be insane to avoid going to prison. The court sends him to Empire General Hospital for evaluation. When psychiatrists determine he is faking his mental condition, hospital administrator Arthur Chambers plans to send Kevin back to jail in the morning. Meanwhile, Hurricane Sam approaches New York City. Since Empire General is located on a small island in New York harbor, Maggie, the head nurse, requests some of her nurses remain overnight in case there are problems, but Chambers refuses the overtime request. He tells his administrative assistant, Rachel Atwood, that a fill-in emergency room doctor, Edward Slattery, will arrive shortly to help out. When Kevin starts a ruckus in the psychiatric wing, Chambers tells guards to lock him in a private room for the night. When the other psych patients protest Kevin’s punishment, Chambers threatens to have them all transferred to a hospital for the criminally insane. Just then, the hurricane knocks out the electricity. The patients take this opportunity to escape, locking Chambers and the guards in the psych ward. Kevin goes to Chambers’ office to look at his file as Rachel Atwood finds him there when she goes to the office to consult the disaster preparedness manual. She assumes Kevin is the missing Dr. Edward “Eddie” Slattery and tells him to go to the emergency room (ER) right away. Kevin puts on a white coat and finds chaos in the ER. Dr. Foster, a longtime physician at Empire General, refuses to treat any patients and recommends they not admit anyone since dealing with patients during a blackout is a “malpractice time bomb.” Kevin spies the exit door, rushes out, gets in an ambulance and drives away. However, the rainstorm is so intense, he cannot see well and drives off the causeway connecting the island hospital to the mainland. He escapes before the ambulance sinks into the water. The hospital’s back-up generator comes on briefly, but soon goes out again. First-year intern, Dr. Joffe, suggests they connect the generator to the ambulance batteries. When Kevin returns to the ER, nurse Maggie gives him files on a half dozen patients needing treatment. Kevin acts authoritative and gives the responsibility to other ER staff, saying he will trust their recommendations. When people obey his orders, Kevin realizes it is easier to pass himself off as a doctor than a lunatic. However, Louis, an orderly, recognizes him from the psych ward, but decides not to say anything and enjoy the fun. Kevin goes to the waiting room, advising patients that exercise is good for them and recommending they treat each other. Young Dr. Joffe comes to him with questions, but Kevin suggests he trust his own gut instincts. Worried about malpractice lawsuits, Dr. Foster has concerns about Kevin’s methods, calling him a “gypsy doctor.” Meanwhile, in the psych ward, the patients have Arthur Chambers tied up. They start a list of changes they want implemented before they agree to release him. Chambers refuses to sign their list of demands and tells them Kevin was an undercover agent from the board of health, but they do not believe him. A pipe bursts, flooding the basement and orderlies say it will be morning before they can possibly get the generators working again. Kevin suggests they move a generator from the helicopter landing pad to power the ER. Rachel Atwood goes to the drug detoxification unit to get help moving the generator, but none of the patients are willing to help. Kevin goes to the detox unit promising to give the patients their methadone pills if they will help move it, and they all pitch in. Soon the ER has power again, but the rest of the building does not. Since the upper floors have no air circulation, Kevin suggests moving the helicopter into the building and placing it beside the elevator shaft to get air moving to the upper floors. Kevin and Rachel go to the kitchen to fix sandwiches for the patients and develop a bond while discussing how to help the patients. Kevin visits Tommy Pinto, a patient who fell off the hospital roof and has no feeling in his legs. Tommy requires immediate surgery or he will be crippled for life. A make-shift operating room is set up in the ER and Kevin persuades Dr. Foster to do the surgery. In the psych ward, Chambers finally signs the list of demands and the patients contact Rachel via walkie-talkie to get her to implement the demands before they will release Chambers. When Rachel is resistant, Box, the leader of the psychiatric patients, demands to deal with Kevin Lenahan. Rachel does not know anyone named Kevin, but when they describe him, she realizes they are talking about the man she knows as Edward Slattery. Rachel confronts Kevin, fearful she will get in trouble for all the things she authorized at his recommendation. Kevin assures her they dealt successfully with a crisis and refuses to help get Chambers released if they intend to send him back to jail once the crisis is over. He makes his own list, demanding to be set free and also demanding none of the other psych patients be sent to the institute for criminally insane. Rachel agrees. Kevin gives the word to free Chambers, and Rachel gives him the keys to a speed boat docked at the pier. Chambers is upset to see what has happened to the hospital and lashes out at Foster and Rachel. However, Dr. Joffe insists they did what had to be done under the circumstances. Nonetheless, Chambers fires Rachel. Kevin speeds off in the boat, but as he glances back at the hospital, he sees plumes of smoke from a fire set by a patient. Kevin rushes back and orders the hospital evacuated. He uses a hose to put out the fire, but when Chambers makes threats against him, Kevin turns the hose on him. The patients and staff defend Kevin, saying he saved the hospital. Kevin lambasts Chambers for criticizing his staff rather than empowering them. If Chambers had done proper maintenance, many of the problems would not have occurred. He suggests the press will be interested in covering this story. Meanwhile, Stucky, the patient who set the fire, takes Rachel hostage. Seeing that Stucky has a walkie-talkie, Kevin pretends to be several people talking on the device to confuse Stucky. Kevin and Stucky fight and Kevin knocks him out. Grateful, Chambers tells Kevin to leave, suggesting that his file was likely destroyed in the fire. As Kevin gets into the speedboat, Rachel follows him, asking why he could not have been the real Dr. Slattery. Kevin invites her to dinner and she accepts. The two speed off toward New York City.



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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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