ⓘ The Hospital

The Hospital

ⓘ The Hospital

The Hospital is a 1971 satirical film directed by Arthur Hiller. It stars George C. Scott as Dr. Herbert Bock. The Hospital was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who was awarded the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Chayefsky also narrates the film and was one of the producers; he had complete control over the casting and content of the film.


1. Plot

At a Manhattan teaching hospital, the life of Dr. Bock George C. Scott, the Chief of Medicine, is in disarray: his wife has left him, his children dont talk to him, and his once-beloved teaching hospital is falling apart.

The hospital is dealing with the sudden deaths of two doctors and a nurse. These are attributed to coincidental or unavoidable failures to provide accurate treatment.

At the same time, administrators must deal with a protest against the hospitals annexation of an adjacent and decrepit apartment building. The annexation is to be used for a drug rehabilitation center; the buildings current occupants demand that the hospital find them replacement housing before the building is demolished despite the building being condemned sometime before.

Dr. Bock admits to impotence and has thoughts of suicide, but falls in love with Barbara Drummond Diana Rigg, a patients daughter who came with her father from Mexico for his treatment. This temporarily gives Dr. Bock something to live for, after Barbara challenges and engages with him.

The deaths are discovered to have been initiated by Barbaras father Barnard Hughes, as retribution for the "inhumanity" of modern medical treatment. Drummonds victims would have been saved if they had received prompt, appropriate treatment, but they did not. Dr. Bock and Barbara use a final, accidental death of a doctor at the hospital to cover Drummonds misdeeds. Barbara makes plans to fly her and her father back to Mexico. Dr. Bock at first intends to go with them, but at the last minute, driven by his sense of obligation, he insists on staying behind at the hospital so that it will not descend into total chaos.


2. Cast

  • David Hooks as Dr. Joe Einhorn
  • Stockard Channing as E.R. Nurse uncredited
  • Kate Harrington as Nurse Dunne
  • Roberts Blossom as Guernsey
  • Dennis Dugan as E.R. Doctor uncredited
  • Stephen Elliott as Dr. John Sundstrom
  • Nancy Marchand as Mrs. Christie, Head of Nurses
  • Lenny Baker as Dr. Howard Schaefer
  • Robert Walden as Dr. Brubaker
  • Jordan Charney as Hitchcock, Hospital Administration
  • Donald Harron as Milton Mead
  • Diana Rigg as Miss Barbara Drummond
  • Andrew Duncan as William "Willie" Mead
  • Richard Hamilton as Dr. Ronald Casey
  • George C. Scott as Dr. Herbert "Herb" Bock
  • Katherine Helmond as Mrs. Marilyn Mead
  • Arthur Junaluska as Mr. Blacktree
  • Barnard Hughes as Edmund Drummond credited and Dr. Mallory uncredited
  • Richard A. Dysart as Dr. Welbeck
  • Frances Sternhagen as Mrs. Sally Cushing

3.1. Reception Box office

The film earned $9 million in North American rentals.


3.2. Reception Critical response

When the film was released, film critic Roger Ebert lauded the film, writing, The Hospital is a better movie than you may have been led to believe. It has been criticized for switching tone in midstream, but maybe its only heading for deeper, swifter waters. bizarre and unexpected ending suggests that men - even madmen - can still use institutions for their own private purpose."

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mildly positive review, writing, "The gallows humor was the melodramatic farces saving grace; the film uses its razor-sharp instruments to cut into the hides of the insensitive institutionalized health care providers like Michael Moores Sicko does in 2007 to the fat-cat HMOs. My major gripe was that it could have been better, as Chayefsky delivered his part of the bargain and so did Scott; nevertheless the pic flattens out as the director increasingly loses his way in all the bitterness and invented horror stories and leaves us dangling over how to get out of such an irredeemable world where modern man is perceived as forgotten in death." The film has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.8/10.

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