Vital Signs (1990)

R | 103 mins | Drama | 13 April 1990

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HISTORY

Principal photography began on 16 May 1989 in Los Angeles, CA, the 2 Jun 1989 DV reported. According to studio production notes in AMPAS library files, the fifty-day shooting schedule covered over sixteen locations and more than ten interior sets on three Twentieth Century Fox studio sound stages. Additional sites include: the Linda Vista Hospital and exteriors of the large “Gothic Deco” County University of Southern California (USC) Medical Center, both located in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles; the ornate corridors of the Los Angeles City Hall and Santa Monica City Hall; and the Lake Hollywood dam.
       Director Marisa Silver told the 21 Jul 1989 NYT that she brought in screenwriter Jeb Stuart, who wrote the 1988 actioner, Die Hard, (see entry), to give Larry Ketron’s original script some “real muscle.”
       Actor Adrian Pasdar prepared for his role of medical student “Michael Chatham,” the son of a famous surgeon, by following his own father, Iranian-born surgeon Dr. Homayoon Pasdar, on hospital rounds and using him as a dialogue coach, according to the 17 Sep 1990 People.
       Twentieth Century Fox banned Chicago newspaper film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, who co-hosted a national television show, from attending the screening of Vital Signs because of their harsh criticism of another studio film, Nuns on the Run (1990, see entry, as announced in the 23 Mar 1990 Chicago Tribune, the 2 Apr 1990 DV, and the 10 Apr 1990 LAT. The ban was lifted after three weeks. Overall, reviews were positive, but referred to the film’s similarity to television medical ... More Less

Principal photography began on 16 May 1989 in Los Angeles, CA, the 2 Jun 1989 DV reported. According to studio production notes in AMPAS library files, the fifty-day shooting schedule covered over sixteen locations and more than ten interior sets on three Twentieth Century Fox studio sound stages. Additional sites include: the Linda Vista Hospital and exteriors of the large “Gothic Deco” County University of Southern California (USC) Medical Center, both located in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles; the ornate corridors of the Los Angeles City Hall and Santa Monica City Hall; and the Lake Hollywood dam.
       Director Marisa Silver told the 21 Jul 1989 NYT that she brought in screenwriter Jeb Stuart, who wrote the 1988 actioner, Die Hard, (see entry), to give Larry Ketron’s original script some “real muscle.”
       Actor Adrian Pasdar prepared for his role of medical student “Michael Chatham,” the son of a famous surgeon, by following his own father, Iranian-born surgeon Dr. Homayoon Pasdar, on hospital rounds and using him as a dialogue coach, according to the 17 Sep 1990 People.
       Twentieth Century Fox banned Chicago newspaper film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, who co-hosted a national television show, from attending the screening of Vital Signs because of their harsh criticism of another studio film, Nuns on the Run (1990, see entry, as announced in the 23 Mar 1990 Chicago Tribune, the 2 Apr 1990 DV, and the 10 Apr 1990 LAT. The ban was lifted after three weeks. Overall, reviews were positive, but referred to the film’s similarity to television medical dramas. Following its third week of poor box-office sales, Vital Signs was “practically gone without a trace,” according to the 25 Apr 1990 Var. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Jun 1990
---
Chicago Sun-Times
10 Apr 1990
News Section, p. 3
Chicago Tribune
23 Mar 1990
p. 20
Daily Variety
2 Jun 1989
p. 16
Daily Variety
2 Apr 1990
p. 8
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1990
p. 1
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1990
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
30 May 1989
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1990
p. 4, 17
Los Angeles Times
10 Apr 1990
Calendar, p. 8
Los Angeles Times
13 Apr 1990
Calendar, p. 6
New York Times
21 Jul 1989
Section C, p. 8
New York Times
13 Apr 1990
p. 17
People
17 Sep 1990
---
Variety
11 Apr 1990
p. 29
Variety
18 Apr 1990
p. 27
Variety
25 Apr 1990
p. 35
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Perlman Production
A Marisa Silver Film
Produced and released by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
DGA trainee
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d asst cam
Still photog
Best boy/elec
Best boy/elec
Rigging gaffer
2d grip
Dolly grip
Rigging key grip
Grip
Cam equip by
Cranes and dollies by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Addl ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst props
Const coord
Propmaker foreman
Propmaker foreman
Paint foreman
Standby painter
Labor foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Men's costumer
Women's costumer
Costumer
Professional staff apparel provided by
MUSIC
Mus ed
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Musician
Mus rec and mixed by
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring crew
Scoring mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Cable person
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
ADR ed
Eff ed
1st sd asst
2d sd asst
Apprentice
Sd tech
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Foley ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles des
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Exec asst to the prod
Exec asst to the prod
Asst to Ms. Silver
Asst to Mr. Perlman
Asst to Ms. Summers
Asst ot Ms. Summers
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Tech adv
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Unit pub
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Voice casting
Disposal surgical products provided by
STAND INS
Voice
Voice
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Rescue Me,” written by Carl William Smith, Raynard Miner, performed by Fontella Bass, courtesy of MCA Records
“The Birds And The Bees,” written by Herb Newman, performed by Jewel Akens, courtesy of Dominion Entertainment Inc.
“Angelyne,” written and performed by John Martin, courtesy of Island Records Inc.
+
SONGS
“Rescue Me,” written by Carl William Smith, Raynard Miner, performed by Fontella Bass, courtesy of MCA Records
“The Birds And The Bees,” written by Herb Newman, performed by Jewel Akens, courtesy of Dominion Entertainment Inc.
“Angelyne,” written and performed by John Martin, courtesy of Island Records Inc.
“Walk The Dinosaur,” written by David Was-Don Was-Randy Jacobs
performed by Was (Not Was), courtesy of Chrysalis Records Inc./Phonogram Limited.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 April 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 13 April 1990
New York opening: 13 April 1990
Production Date:
began 16 May 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
23 May 1990
Copyright Number:
PA463745
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
103
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Michael Chatham reports for his third year of medical school at a large urban teaching hospital. Among the friends in his group are Bobby Hayes and Suzanne Maloney, who have been platonic roommates for years; Kenny Rose, the only married student in the group; beautiful Gina Wyler; and Gant, a student the others ignore because he copies their class notes. Dr. David Redding, the third-year dean and chief of surgery, informs the entire class that this will be the toughest year of their lives, and they compete for “honors” in order to garner fourth-year internships. Part of the students’ training is “Grand Rounds,” or on-the-job training in all departments. Dr. Margaret Kennan, chief resident of OB/GYN, introduces the group to a pregnant mother who may require a Caesarian section, and quizzes the students on diagnoses. As the group studies at Bobby and Suzanne’s apartment, Kenny Rose asks what the roommates do when one wants to bring home a date. Later, Kenny argues with his wife, Lauren, when she wonders why he did not telephone her. Kenny insists on working relentlessly to beat out Michael Chatham, the son of a well-known surgeon, for the surgery internship. Meanwhile, Michael offers to walk Gina Wyler home, but she already has a date with Dr. Donald Ballentine, a resident surgeon at the hospital. Later, Gina and Suzanne discuss their chances of fitting a love life into their hectic schedule, and Suzanne claims that her roommate, Bobby, is not her type. Gina refuses to commit to Dr. Ballentine because she distrusts his “surgeon’s ego.” In the OB/GYN ward, Michael devotes his time to the pregnant patient with the difficult delivery, so that she can ... +


Michael Chatham reports for his third year of medical school at a large urban teaching hospital. Among the friends in his group are Bobby Hayes and Suzanne Maloney, who have been platonic roommates for years; Kenny Rose, the only married student in the group; beautiful Gina Wyler; and Gant, a student the others ignore because he copies their class notes. Dr. David Redding, the third-year dean and chief of surgery, informs the entire class that this will be the toughest year of their lives, and they compete for “honors” in order to garner fourth-year internships. Part of the students’ training is “Grand Rounds,” or on-the-job training in all departments. Dr. Margaret Kennan, chief resident of OB/GYN, introduces the group to a pregnant mother who may require a Caesarian section, and quizzes the students on diagnoses. As the group studies at Bobby and Suzanne’s apartment, Kenny Rose asks what the roommates do when one wants to bring home a date. Later, Kenny argues with his wife, Lauren, when she wonders why he did not telephone her. Kenny insists on working relentlessly to beat out Michael Chatham, the son of a well-known surgeon, for the surgery internship. Meanwhile, Michael offers to walk Gina Wyler home, but she already has a date with Dr. Donald Ballentine, a resident surgeon at the hospital. Later, Gina and Suzanne discuss their chances of fitting a love life into their hectic schedule, and Suzanne claims that her roommate, Bobby, is not her type. Gina refuses to commit to Dr. Ballentine because she distrusts his “surgeon’s ego.” In the OB/GYN ward, Michael devotes his time to the pregnant patient with the difficult delivery, so that she can have a natural birth. When Dr. Ballentine dismisses Gina’s excitement over delivering her first baby, she discusses the thrill of delivering babies with a more enthusiastic Michael. Sometime later, Kenny and Michael assist Dr. Redding with an emergency surgery. As they work, Redding asks why they want to become doctors, and though he personally knows Michael’s father, he reminds both students that he is not impressed with family connections. Kenny becomes jealous upon learning that Michael received “honors” in the OB/GYN rounds. When he picks up his wife from the restaurant where she works, Lauren assures him that he will make honors in the next rotation. At a supermarket, Suzanne becomes jealous when she sees Bobby talking to another woman, prompting an argument. Michael goes to a bank to renew his student loan, and explains to the loan officer that he receives no help from his wealthy father. Dr. Redding assigns Michael to a cancer patient, Miss Henrietta Walker, a schoolteacher who becomes irritated by his cheery bedside manner. When the group accompanies Dr. Redding to Miss Walker’s room, Kenny undermines Michael’s diagnosis, but a follow-up test confirms Michael’s decision. Confiding to Michael that she finds his rivalry with Kenny entertaining, Miss Walker compliments his efforts, but tells him he needs to concentrate more on people than facts. Kenny is thrilled when he wins honors on the next rotation. At a bar, Gant dances with Suzanne, and Bobby jealously cuts between them. As Kenny and Lauren sit at a table with Dr. Ballentine and Gina, Lauren becomes irritated by the surgeon’s shop talk and her husband’s rapt attention. She asks why there are so few female surgeons, and Ballentine suggests that women lack determination because they only want to have children. Lauren leaves alone in anger. Returning home, Michael receives a message from his father that he will soon be working with Dr. Redding. Elsewhere, Bobby and Suzanne make love for the first time, but in the morning, both have doubts about their decision. Michael checks on Miss Walker before she leaves the hospital, and she appreciates his concern. The group joins a gallery of students to witness Michael’s father, Dr. Chatham, working with Dr. Redding in an operating theater. Afterward, Dr. Chatham meets briefly with Michael, and tells him never to let down his guard, the way he once did as a boy during a sports competition. Michael is surprised that his father remembers the event in such detail, including the other boy’s name. Later, Michael tells Gina that he was eight before he found out his father’s first name was not “Doctor,” and still feels like a boy seeking his father’s approval. Suzanne and Bobby try unsuccessfully to resume their sexual relationship. When Gina prepares a young boy for a transfusion, he goes into convulsions and dies, despite Dr. Redding’s attempts to revive him. Devastated, Gina runs from the room in tears. Michael takes her for a walk along a lake and tries to convince her that the boy’s death was not her fault. They return to his place and make love. Gina goes home to find Dr. Ballentine waiting at her door. She tells him he is never there for her at the right time. While assisting Dr. Redding and Dr. Ballentine in surgery, Gina’s hand shakes as she tries to make an incision. Dr. Redding takes the scalpel from her, and Bobby faints as he watches the incision. Later, Lauren arrives at the hospital with dinner, and Kenny has no time to spend with her. During another operation, Dr. Ballentine challenges Michael’s diagnosis, and Bobby again faints at the sight of an incision. When Suzanne tells Bobby she misses his friendship, they decide to return to their separate beds. Studying at the hospital late at night, Michael and Gina sneak off to the laundry room to make love. Dr. Redding ends an operation prematurely because the patient was not properly x-rayed beforehand to reveal a cancer growth. Kenny takes the blame, but Michael insists he was not at fault. Soon after, Lauren leaves Kenny, believing he resents her. Miss Walker returns to the hospital for surgery, and shares her fears with Michael. After the operation, Michael notices that Miss Walker’s condition has worsened. He tells Dr. Ballentine they need to increase her fluids, but Ballentine brushes him off. Ignoring the surgeon’s orders, Michael realizes that if things go wrong, he will have compromised his education. Miss Walker responds favorably to his treatment, but Dr. Redding suspends Michael. Kenny visits Lauren at her work, hoping to reconcile. He tells her that he believes the staff is mistreating Michael. Meanwhile, Michael’s father assures him that he did the right thing by following his instincts. At a hearing before the medical school dean, Michael refuses to speculate why Dr. Ballentine might want to undermine him. However, Kenny later informs Dr. Redding that Dr. Ballentine was jealous of Michael’s relationship with Gina. Learning that Kenny defended him, Michael wonders why he helped, and Kenny explains that he wants to win the internship fairly. When a traffic accident floods the emergency room with patients, Dr. Redding brings Michael in to help and, afterward, lifts Michael’s suspension. At the end of the year, Kenny bids farewell to his classmates before leaving with Lauren to begin an internship in Chicago, Illinois, upon Dr. Redding’s recommendation. Suzanne leaves Bobby behind to transfer to a hospital in Denver, Colorado, and Michael will spend his fourth year interning with Dr. Redding. In time, Michael and Gina move in together. +

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

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