The Hospital (1971)

GP | 103-105 mins | Black comedy, Satire | December 1971

Director:

Arthur Hiller

Cinematographer:

Victor J. Kemper

Editor:

Eric Albertson

Production Designer:

Gene Rudolf

Production Company:

Simcha Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The opening title credit reads " The Hospital by Paddy Chayevsky." The film begins with an uncredited voice-over narration by Chayevsky, describing the events that have led up to "Dr. Schaefer" using the bed of his dead patient to have a tryst. The credits then roll. No other narration is heard during the film. Although Andrew Duncan is credited above Donald Harron in the first opening cast credits, he is listed below Harron in the end credits, which also include the following written statement: "We gratefully acknowledge the co-operation of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and the Dept. of Public Works of the City of New York."
       According to Filmfacts , Chayevsky formed a production company in order to retain some control over the production. The writer stated in a 3 Jan 1972 NYT interview that he "was in on all basic decisions, including the final cut." Although Michael Ritchie was originally set to direct The Hospital , on 30 Mar 1970 DV announced that he was leaving the production due to "differences" and that Arthur Hiller had been hired to take over directing, in a deal that guaranteed him a percentage of the profits.
       Chayevsky noted in the NYT interview that he saw the main theme of The Hospital as dealing with personal responsibility in a declining society. In a Jan 1972 LAHExam article, he stated that he made the character of "Dr. Herbert Bock" impotent "to represent the impotence of the American middle class," and noted that although he and George C. Scott fought during the filming, he was pleased ... More Less

The opening title credit reads " The Hospital by Paddy Chayevsky." The film begins with an uncredited voice-over narration by Chayevsky, describing the events that have led up to "Dr. Schaefer" using the bed of his dead patient to have a tryst. The credits then roll. No other narration is heard during the film. Although Andrew Duncan is credited above Donald Harron in the first opening cast credits, he is listed below Harron in the end credits, which also include the following written statement: "We gratefully acknowledge the co-operation of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and the Dept. of Public Works of the City of New York."
       According to Filmfacts , Chayevsky formed a production company in order to retain some control over the production. The writer stated in a 3 Jan 1972 NYT interview that he "was in on all basic decisions, including the final cut." Although Michael Ritchie was originally set to direct The Hospital , on 30 Mar 1970 DV announced that he was leaving the production due to "differences" and that Arthur Hiller had been hired to take over directing, in a deal that guaranteed him a percentage of the profits.
       Chayevsky noted in the NYT interview that he saw the main theme of The Hospital as dealing with personal responsibility in a declining society. In a Jan 1972 LAHExam article, he stated that he made the character of "Dr. Herbert Bock" impotent "to represent the impotence of the American middle class," and noted that although he and George C. Scott fought during the filming, he was pleased with the actor's performance. That article added that the film was shot in a New York hospital's new, as-yet-unused psychiatry wing.
       The Hospital marked Chayevsky's first original screenplay; the first American feature film for composer Morris Surdin; and the producing debut of Howard Gottfried, who went on the produce Network (1976, see above) and Body Double (1984). It also marked the second collaboration between Hiller and Chayevsky, who had worked together on 1964's The Americanization of Emily (see above). Actors Stockard Channing, Christopher Guest and Dennis Dugan made their feature film debuts in The Hospital . A modern source adds Shawn McAllister ( Medical intern ) and Lonnie Burr( Intern ) to the cast. The LAT review mistakenly credits Dave Grusin with the score.
       Many reviews compared the film to M*A*S*H*, the 1970 medical satire directed by Robert Altman (see below). Although many critics disliked the film's ending, believing that revealing a mad murderer undercut Chayevsky's point about doctors' ineptitude, The Hospital generally won critical acclaim, and Chayevsky was awarded the Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Despite the fact that Scott had declined an Oscar nomination for The Hustler (1961) and, just the previous year, had refused to accept the Oscar he won for his performance in Patton (see below for both), he was once again nominated for Best Actor for The Hospital . In addition, Chayevsky won and Scott was nominated for BAFTAs; Chayevsky won and Scott and Diana Rigg were nominated for Golden Globe Awards; and Chayevsky won the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Screenplay. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Mar 1970.
---
Daily Variety
8 Dec 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 441-45.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 1971
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1971
pp. 3-4.
Life
28 Jan 1972
p. 14.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
24 Jan 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1971.
---
New Republic
22 Jan 1972.
---
New York Times
17 Apr 1971.
---
New York Times
15 Dec 1971
p. 66.
New York Times
3 Jan 1972.
---
New Yorker
8 Jan 1972.
---
Newsweek
20 Dec 1971
p. 88.
Time
10 Jan 1972
p. 50.
Variety
8 Dec 1971
p. 16.
Village Voice
20 Jan 1972.
---
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Howard Gottfried/Paddy Chayevsky Production in Association with Arthur Hiller
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
[Scr] by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Key grip
Cam asst
Cam asst
Best boy
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Const grip
Master carpenter
Standby prop
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd eff ed
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles des
Opticals
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Extra casting
Prod assoc
Scr supv
Tech adv
Transportation capt
Prod mgr
Unit pub
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod's secy
Auditor
Auditor
DGA trainee
DETAILS
Release Date:
December 1971
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 14 December 1971
Los Angeles opening: 15 December 1971
Production Date:
began 16 April 1971
Copyright Claimant:
Simcha Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 December 1971
Copyright Number:
LP40744
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
DeLuxe
Lenses/Prints
Camera and lenses by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
103-105
Length(in feet):
9,270
Length(in reels):
11
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23099
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the chaotic Manhattan Medical Center, intern Dr. Schaefer makes multiple mistakes that lead to the death of patient Mr. Guernsey, then uses Guernsey’s now-empty bed for an assignation with an orderly. The next morning, Nurse Perez finds the intern dead in the bed, hooked up to an IV. Hospital administrator John Sundstrom calls in Dr. Herbert Bock, the hospital’s chief of staff, and chastises him for failing to concentrate on his work. Bock, who is suicidal due to the collapse of his marriage, his alienation from his two grown children and his disillusionment with the field of medicine, promises to focus, and delves into Schaefer’s mysterious death. He soon learns that the night nurses, assuming the sleeping Schaefer was Guernsey, administered a glucose IV that sent him into diabetic shock, and after admonishing the head nurse, Bock orders a pathology workup. Back in his office, he escapes a barrage of complaints about the underfunded, overworked staff by visiting the resident psychiatrist, Dr. Joe Einhorn. Bock discusses his actue depression, explaining that his reputation as a “boy wonder” put pressure on him to succeed, and combined with his gloomy home life led to suicidal thoughts, but when Einhorn presses him to take better care of himself, Bock declares that he simply must concentrate on work. Later, in the emergency ward, literal-minded accountant Mrs. Cushing stumbles upon the abandoned, dead body of research doctor Elroy Ives. Meanwhile, hospital executive Milton Mead’s brother, William, is admitted for surgery and is furious to learn that no private rooms are available. Soon after, senior resident Brubaker informs Bock that Edward Drummond, a Methodist missionary who lives with the Apaches in Mexico, has lapsed ... +


At the chaotic Manhattan Medical Center, intern Dr. Schaefer makes multiple mistakes that lead to the death of patient Mr. Guernsey, then uses Guernsey’s now-empty bed for an assignation with an orderly. The next morning, Nurse Perez finds the intern dead in the bed, hooked up to an IV. Hospital administrator John Sundstrom calls in Dr. Herbert Bock, the hospital’s chief of staff, and chastises him for failing to concentrate on his work. Bock, who is suicidal due to the collapse of his marriage, his alienation from his two grown children and his disillusionment with the field of medicine, promises to focus, and delves into Schaefer’s mysterious death. He soon learns that the night nurses, assuming the sleeping Schaefer was Guernsey, administered a glucose IV that sent him into diabetic shock, and after admonishing the head nurse, Bock orders a pathology workup. Back in his office, he escapes a barrage of complaints about the underfunded, overworked staff by visiting the resident psychiatrist, Dr. Joe Einhorn. Bock discusses his actue depression, explaining that his reputation as a “boy wonder” put pressure on him to succeed, and combined with his gloomy home life led to suicidal thoughts, but when Einhorn presses him to take better care of himself, Bock declares that he simply must concentrate on work. Later, in the emergency ward, literal-minded accountant Mrs. Cushing stumbles upon the abandoned, dead body of research doctor Elroy Ives. Meanwhile, hospital executive Milton Mead’s brother, William, is admitted for surgery and is furious to learn that no private rooms are available. Soon after, senior resident Brubaker informs Bock that Edward Drummond, a Methodist missionary who lives with the Apaches in Mexico, has lapsed into a coma as a result of mistreatment by various staff members, and his daughter Barbara has arrived to transport him back to Mexico. After hearing the horrifying story of Drummond’s care, Bock determines to fire two of the man’s doctors, Ives, whom Bock does not realize has died, and a surgeon named Welbeck who spends far more time incorporating and trading shares in his businesses than on his patients. Late that night, Barbara and an Indian shaman named Blacktree perform a ritual over Drummond, and although the nurses are appalled, Bock allows them to continue. Barbara accompanies him back to his office to order an ambulance to transport her father to the airport the next day. There, she tells Bock the story of her father’s calling: After years as a successful doctor, he one day began speaking in tongues, only to discover that he was fluently conversing in an esoteric Apache dialect. Believing he had been called by God, he moved to a mission in Mexico, while she dabbled in drugs and other counterculture interests until she finally settled down with him. Barbara makes her interest in Bock clear, but he responds that he is impotent, and compares Barbara to his son, a hippie who preaches love but harbors hatred. When Barbara remains nonplussed, Bock shouts that the impotent are the true despised minority, and that his real lust is for a sense of permanent worth. Although he pioneered the field of immunology, he continues, he has now lost his desire to work and feels worthless. Furious, he throws the girl out, then prepares to inject himself with an overdose of potassium. Barbara returns, however, and when he attacks her, she responds with passion, and soon they are making love. The next morning, Bock asks Barbara to stay in town for a week, but she refuses, citing several prophetic nightmares she has had about the hospital. Instead, she declares her love and states firmly that he should join her in Mexico, as he loves her and can do necessary work there. Although at first he calls her crazy and declares he must stay to run the hospital, he soon admits that he loves her and agrees to consider her proposal to leave together within hours. Meanwhile, a demonstration rages outside protesting the eviction of black families from condemned buildings in order to make room for the hospital’s new drug rehabilitation center. Sundstrom enters into a community discussion with the various factions insisting that the hospital is guilty of racism, sexism, imperialism and consumerism. At the same time, a team of surgeons begins an operation on a woman, only to realize that the woman on the operating table is neither the correct patient, nor alive. She is soon identified as Theresa Campanelli, one of Drummond’s nurses. Bock has learned that Schaefer’s blood contained a high dosage of insulin, proving he was murdered, and pauses in his investigation to tell Barbara that he still wants her to stay. She replies that she is offering silence, solitude and herself. Just then, someone mentions that a man wearing Schaefer’s nametag is wandering the hospital. Realizing that all of the dead doctors worked on Drummond, and that the person wearing the dead doctor’s name tag is probably the murderer, Bock visits Drummond’s room. Although he finds the patient peacefully in bed, once Bock turns around, Drummond, perfectly healthy, attacks him from behind. Barbara walks in and helps restrain her father, who admits that he killed the people responsible for his poor treatment. Recalling how Guernsey’s ghost commanded him to do God’s will by committing murder, Drummond details how he killed each person simply by making them patients in their own hospital: For instance, Drummond brought Ives to the ER still alive, but the negligent interns left him to die. When Barbara announces that she must take her father back to Mexico to protect him, Bock offers to accompany them. They leave the room to arrange transportation, not realizing that Drummond’s last planned victim, Welbeck, is just arriving. As Welbeck receives a phone call informing him that his partner has embezzled all their money, a fire breaks out in the condemned building and the protestors erupt in a riot. In the hospital, Welbeck suffers a heart attack from shock, and when he collapses onto Drummond’s bed, the hospital staff assumes he is Drummond. Bock allows them to believe this, and he and Barbara surreptitiously hide Welbeck’s wallet, pack Drummond’s clothes and slip out. As they run to the ambulance, the protestors storm the hospital, joined by the young doctors on staff. Barbara loads her father into the ambulance, but Bock remains in the street and, realizing that his true calling rests with the people and institution that need him, tells her he must be stay. He kisses her goodbye and, joined by a resigned Sundstrom, re-enters the fray that surrounds his hospital. +

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

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