The Doctor (1991)

PG-13 | 123 mins | Drama | 24 July 1991

Director:

Randa Haines

Writer:

Robert Caswell

Producer:

Laura Ziskin

Cinematographer:

John Seale

Production Designer:

Ken Adam

Production Company:

Touchstone Pictures
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HISTORY

The 19 Jul 1990 DV announced actor Warren Beatty’s withdrawal from the forthcoming project, The Doctors, citing "creative differences" with director Randa Haines. David Hoberman, president of the film's distributor, Touchstone Pictures, reported the actor’s disapproval of the script as the reason for his departure. A Sep 1990 start date was anticipated. The article also speculated that producer Dawn Steel was being considered for the picture, but her name does not appear onscreen. On 10 Aug 1990, DV named actor William Hurt as Beatty’s replacement.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began on 19 Nov 1990 in Valencia, CA, where the film’s hospital set was located. Production designer Ken Adam stated that, after studying more than twenty hospitals throughout the Los Angeles, CA, area, he created “a hospital of heightened reality,” designed to mirror the experiences of protagonist “Jack MacKee.” Following a week of filming in Valencia, the crew spent four days shooting exteriors in San Francisco, CA, then two more days in Nevada, photographing locations in Reno and on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation. The next two weeks were spent in Malibu, CA, using a house surrounded by woods as the “MacKee” home. Other locations included the California Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles; an office building in Beverly Hills, CA; a Pasadena, CA, classroom; and the GTE building in Westlake Village, CA.
       The Doctor opened in late Jul 1991 to positive reviews. Several critics compared the film favorably with Regarding Henry (1991, see entry), which had a similar theme.
       End credits ... More Less

The 19 Jul 1990 DV announced actor Warren Beatty’s withdrawal from the forthcoming project, The Doctors, citing "creative differences" with director Randa Haines. David Hoberman, president of the film's distributor, Touchstone Pictures, reported the actor’s disapproval of the script as the reason for his departure. A Sep 1990 start date was anticipated. The article also speculated that producer Dawn Steel was being considered for the picture, but her name does not appear onscreen. On 10 Aug 1990, DV named actor William Hurt as Beatty’s replacement.
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, principal photography began on 19 Nov 1990 in Valencia, CA, where the film’s hospital set was located. Production designer Ken Adam stated that, after studying more than twenty hospitals throughout the Los Angeles, CA, area, he created “a hospital of heightened reality,” designed to mirror the experiences of protagonist “Jack MacKee.” Following a week of filming in Valencia, the crew spent four days shooting exteriors in San Francisco, CA, then two more days in Nevada, photographing locations in Reno and on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Indian Reservation. The next two weeks were spent in Malibu, CA, using a house surrounded by woods as the “MacKee” home. Other locations included the California Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles; an office building in Beverly Hills, CA; a Pasadena, CA, classroom; and the GTE building in Westlake Village, CA.
       The Doctor opened in late Jul 1991 to positive reviews. Several critics compared the film favorably with Regarding Henry (1991, see entry), which had a similar theme.
       End credits include the following statements: “The producers wish to thank: Letizia Adam; Matthew T. Clancy, M.D.; Hillel Laks, M.D.; Martin L. Hopp, M.D., Ph.D; Elsi Giorgi, M.D.; The Foothill Surgical Associates Medical Group; Huntington Memorial Hospital; Long Beach Memorial Radiation Oncology Center; San Francisco Film and Video Arts Commission; Nevada Motion Picture Division; Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe; Special Effects Unlimited, Inc.”; and, “MRT 35/MR Scanner courtesy of Toshiba America Medical Systems; Sarnes 9000 Heart-Lung Machine and XP515 Laser Camera Imager courtesy of 3M Health Care; Clinac Zidoc Medical Accelerator and Zimatron CK Simulator courtesy of Varian Associates, Inc.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1990.
p. 1, 14.
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1990
p. 1, 26.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 1991
p. 11, 72.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jul 1991
p. 1.
New York Times
24 Jul 1991
p. 11.
Screen International
28 Jul 1990.
---
Variety
29 Jul 1991
p. 31.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Touchstone Pictures Presents
In association with Silver Screen Partners IV
A Laura Ziskin Production
In association with Edward S. Feldman
A Randa Haines Film
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Inc.
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
D.G.A. trainee
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Video tech
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Const coord
Const foreman
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Orch cond by
Orch contractor
Mus scoring mixer
Supv copyist
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
ADR supv
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
ADR ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley ed
1st sd asst
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
ADR mixer
Foley mixer
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley artist
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
Rerec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff foreman
Surgical prosthetics des
Surgical prosthetics des
Asst to Ms. Ziskin
Title des
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod coord, English crew
Asst prod coord
Asst to Mr. Feldman
Asst to Ms. Ziskin
Asst to Ms. Ziskin
Asst to Ms. Haines
Casting assoc
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc liaison-San Francisco
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Medical consultant
Medical tech coord
Medical adv, cardio-thoracic
Medical adv, anesthesiology
Medical adv, radiation
Medical adv, operating room
Medical adv, operating room
Medical adv to Mr. Hurt
Medical adv, E.N.T.
Medical adv, heart transplant
Medical adv, orthopedics
Medical adv, M.R.I.
Prod accountant
1st asst accountant
Unit pub
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Extras casting
Stage facilities supplied by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
Prod and dist on
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book A Taste of My Own Medicine: When the Doctor is the Patient by Edward E. Rosenbaum (New York, 1988). Based upon the book A Taste of My Own Medicine by Ed Rosenbaum, M.D.
SONGS
“Big Girls Don’t Cry,” written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, performed by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, courtesy of Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli
“Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw,” written and performed by Jimmy Buffett, courtesy of MCA Records
“Witch Doctor,” written by Ross Bagdasarian
+
SONGS
“Big Girls Don’t Cry,” written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, performed by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, courtesy of Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli
“Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw,” written and performed by Jimmy Buffett, courtesy of MCA Records
“Witch Doctor,” written by Ross Bagdasarian
“Everything’s Got A Time,” written and performed by Willie Dixon, courtesy of Willie Dixon Productions
“Strange Angels,” written and performed by Laurie Anderson, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
“Be Bop For Boo,” written and performed by Royal Crown Revue, courtesy of Big Daddy Records
“Nostalgia Guajira,” written and performed by Guillermo Portabales, courtesy of Gema records
“Tristeza Guajira,” written by Ramon Cabrera, performed by Guillermo Portabales, courtesy of Gema records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 July 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 24 July 1991
New York opening: week of 24 July 1991
Production Date:
began 19 October 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Touchstone Pictures an a.a.o. the Walt Disney Company
Copyright Date:
5 August 1991
Copyright Number:
PA530349
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Prints
Prod and distributed on Eastman Film
Duration(in mins):
123
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31287
SYNOPSIS

In a Los Angeles, California, hospital, Dr. Jack MacKee and his associate, Dr. Murray Kaplan, joke, laugh, and sing while performing life-saving heart surgery on a young man who survived a suicide attempt. Afterward, Jack and Murray pass their colleague, Dr. Eli Blumfield, in the hallway and ridicule him for talking to his unconscious patients during surgery. Later, Jack flippantly addresses a female patient’s concerns about post-surgical staple scars in her chest, saying they give her the look of a “centerfold.” Jack returns home to his schoolteacher wife, Anne, and their son, Nicky. Although Anne expects Jack to join her for a school event that evening, he has made other plans, as he has in the past. Jack and Anne meet afterward, and she is alarmed that he is coughing up blood, which he attributes to a persistent sore throat. In the morning, Jack instructs a group of medical residents to avoid personal involvement with patients, believing it is inefficient. That afternoon, Dr. Leslie Abbot discovers a tumor on Jack’s larynx, which she plans to biopsy in the morning. Jack is stunned by the news, as well as by Dr. Abbot’s emotional detachment. That evening, Jack surprises Anne by coming home in time for dinner, and shares the news about his tumor. She accompanies him to the hospital the next day, and both are annoyed by the impersonal treatment he receives from the staff. Jack shares a hospital room with Ralph Brown, a policeman with an intestinal disorder, who warns that doctors lie to their patients at least half the time. Jack returns from his biopsy, and ... +


In a Los Angeles, California, hospital, Dr. Jack MacKee and his associate, Dr. Murray Kaplan, joke, laugh, and sing while performing life-saving heart surgery on a young man who survived a suicide attempt. Afterward, Jack and Murray pass their colleague, Dr. Eli Blumfield, in the hallway and ridicule him for talking to his unconscious patients during surgery. Later, Jack flippantly addresses a female patient’s concerns about post-surgical staple scars in her chest, saying they give her the look of a “centerfold.” Jack returns home to his schoolteacher wife, Anne, and their son, Nicky. Although Anne expects Jack to join her for a school event that evening, he has made other plans, as he has in the past. Jack and Anne meet afterward, and she is alarmed that he is coughing up blood, which he attributes to a persistent sore throat. In the morning, Jack instructs a group of medical residents to avoid personal involvement with patients, believing it is inefficient. That afternoon, Dr. Leslie Abbot discovers a tumor on Jack’s larynx, which she plans to biopsy in the morning. Jack is stunned by the news, as well as by Dr. Abbot’s emotional detachment. That evening, Jack surprises Anne by coming home in time for dinner, and shares the news about his tumor. She accompanies him to the hospital the next day, and both are annoyed by the impersonal treatment he receives from the staff. Jack shares a hospital room with Ralph Brown, a policeman with an intestinal disorder, who warns that doctors lie to their patients at least half the time. Jack returns from his biopsy, and while he is still under sedation, an incompetent orderly gives him the barium enema intended for Ralph. When Jack awakens, Leslie Abbot informs him that the tumor is malignant, and has scheduled his radiation therapy to begin the next day. While Eli Blumfield offers Jack sympathy, Dr. Murray Kaplan is more concerned with securing his associate’s testimony for a malpractice lawsuit, brought by former patient Mr. Richards. Jack begins his first day of therapy by filling out forms and arguing with bureaucrats, while oncologist Dr. Charles Reed ignores his request to be involved in treatment decisions. Murray Kaplan advises Jack to take a hiatus until his treatment regimen is completed, in order to avoid any further malpractice allegations, but Jack refuses. During a subsequent visit to Dr. Reed’s office, Jack meets June Ellis, a young woman suffering from an inoperable brain tumor. After she recounts her history of misdiagnoses and ineffective treatments, Jack assures her that a cure is still possible. Later that day, Jack learns that his cancer has not spread beyond the larynx, but Anne discourages his plans for a celebration, reminding him of the emotional distance he has placed between himself and his family. During his next encounter with June Ellis, Jack admits that he was lying about her prognosis, and blames her situation on the insurance industry’s tendency to contain costs by denying necessary tests. June laments several things she will never experience, such as seeing a performance of the American Indian Dance Theatre. Despite weeks of radiation therapy, Jack’s tumor continues to grow. He learns of a scheduled performance by the American Indian Dance Theatre in a small town near Reno, Nevada, and invites June. As they drive through the desert, June recalls a dream she had the previous night, in which she flew over Jack’s house. June interrupts their adventure, saying she would rather savor the experience of being in the desert, so she and Jack spend the night dancing on the shore of Pyramid Lake. Jack arrives home as Anne is leaving for work, and during their brief exchange, she tells him how hurtful his behavior has been. At the hospital, Jack has a chance meeting with Mr. Richards, the malpractice complainant, whose speech has been severely impaired following Murray’s treatment. Jack consults with Dr. Abbot, who plans to surgically remove his tumor the following afternoon. Fearing the loss of his vocal chords, Jack asks Dr. Abbot to reschedule for morning, when she is less likely to be fatigued, but she refuses. Jack is distraught and seeks consolation from June, believing he and Anne have grown too far apart. In the morning, Jack criticizes Dr. Abbot for her lack of empathy, and hires Dr. Blumfield to perform his surgery. He then refuses to testify on behalf of Murray Kaplan after discovering his associate’s unethical plan to withhold Mr. Richards’s medical history. Anne meets Jack in his waiting room, upset that he failed to inform her of his impending surgery, and resentful that he seeks consolation from June. As Anne leaves, Jack is summoned to the intensive care unit, where June is near death. Although she is comatose, Jack says goodbye to June, asking her to continue flying over his house. The next day, Dr. Blumfield assures Anne that the surgery was successful, although not all of of Jack’s larynx could be saved. While recovering at home, Jack insists on mending his failing marriage, communicating with a whistle and a note pad. When Anne finally consents to his request, Jack says, “I love you,” and both are overjoyed that his voice has returned. Upon returning to work, Jack performs a heart transplant on Arturo Maris, talking the unconscious patient through the procedure. Afterward, Jack gives a group of medical students a lesson in empathy by assigning each an illness, for which they will be tested during a three-day hospital stay. He receives a letter from June, written the night before her death, in which she tells the story of a farmer who unintentionally frightened away animals with a scarecrow. She advises Jack that letting down his arms will bring people closer to him. +

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

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