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The Hospital
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Movie Details

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Directed By
Arthur Hiller

Written By:
Paddy Chayefsky

George C. Scott, Diana Rigg, Barnard Hughes, Stockard Channing, Nancy Marchand, Richard Dysart, Stephen Elliott, Katherine Helmond, Roberts Blossom, Rehn Scofield

The Hospital (1971)
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Movie Review by John
September 7th, 2012

Favorite flick

Favorite Movie Quote: ""I mean, where do you train your nurse, Mrs. Christie....Dachau?!""

This is probably my favorite movie of all time starring George C. Scott and Dianna Riggs. It's part black comedy, part social commentary, part murder mystery. Set in a inner city teaching hospital in the '70's, it holds up over time surprisingly well (in a climactic scene, the main character, Dr. Herb Bock, a burnt-out, alcoholic, yet widely respected physician, open his office window in the middle of a drunken rage and screams out: "It is all rubbish isn't it. I mean... transplants, anti-bodies, we can produce birth ectogenetically... and half the kids in this ghetto haven't been inoculated for polio.We've established the most enormous medical entity ever conceived... and people are sicker than ever. We cure nothing! We heal nothing!", words you could argue not out of place today).
George C. Scott plays an eminent internist at a busy inner city hospital which is in a middle of a crisis, including a resident doctor's strike. Also in crisis is Dr. Bock (Geo. C. Scott) as he drinks himself to oblivion nightly in a hotel room having left his wife and having estranged himself from his two children ("I blame myself for those two wasted young people"). But, he still takes his teaching responsibilities at the hospital seriously and there is a great and realistic (I know, I'm a doctor) scene as he does "Grand Rounds" at the hospital. There is one distressing case on the ward he supervises (as Bock sums it up: "In short, a man comes in this hospital in perfect health, and in the course of one week, we chop out one kidney, damage the other, place him in a coma and damn near kill him! The incompetence here is positively radiant!"). This poor man's daughter is played by Diana Rigg, who ends up as Dr. Bock love interest and life preserver (but only after a crazy, drunken scene in which he seduces her with such force that he later calls it a "rape"). Meanwhile, as the hospital is assailed on all sides by disgruntled doctors, angry impoverished neighbors and an over-loaded Emergency Room, members of the medical staff are mysteriously dying. Diana and Dr. Bock together figure out who the culprit is and come up with their own extra-legal resolution. Also, we see Dr. Bock seem to conquer is own personal demons and find new meaning in what he's doing.

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Mike Thomas
Sep 21, 2012 1:06 AM
I remember this movie as a tale of incompetence on an epic scale. The one scene I vividly remember was the nurse asking the dead person for their insurance card.

This was made before I actually worked in a hospital, so my career expectations were not optimistic. The movie portrays the healthcare system in its worst nightmare scenario. And although history and the media showcase these extreme examples, they are just that - extreme examples and not the norm.

Otherwise, we'd ALL be dead.

Still, it was a commentary of the angry times a decade just coming out of the 60's as well as the still overburdened healthcare system. We sometimes need to see the world through a funhouse mirror to experience the true reality.

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