A low budget weak semi-naturalistic slightly envelope pushing flick!
Emergency Hospital (1956)
This is meant to be a true-to-life glimpse of a modern (at the time) emergency ward with all the personal and medical dramas you'd expect. You can only appreciate it in context. It probably pushed boundaries in talking about adultery, drug abuse, suicide, child beatings, and so on, and it did it with the very reasonable cover of the setting, where things like this happen. The Hays Code could not quite interfere.
It's not brilliant stuff. I repeat not.
But there is some unusually naturalistic acting, especially (of all people) the woman who keeps answering the telephone. There is a woman doctor who leads the way for both intelligence and compassion, and another (male) doctor who supports her. And there is an odd and central character in a loitering detective from the police, who is kindly (he never really arrests anyone, just scolds them) and gets involved very personally in each case. Weird but interesting. Even weirder is the actor's name--Walter Reed--which some of you will recognize as a major military hospital in the U.S.
It's hard to know what the goal of the movie was besides the direct drama of it all. But there are tons of little and often weird asides. There is the father who wants to prosecute his son for breaking into the family store, and then the father who won't prosecute the rapist who attacked his daughter, preferring to send her away so no one will find out. Are fathers so bad as that in the 1950s? This movie thinks so, and in both cases the amazing humanity of the staff (doctors, nurses, and receptionist) turns the fathers heads and makes them do the right thing. It's painfully forced but it has its message anyway.
Of course, the drama gets over the top (this is not cinema-verite, after all) and is a bit too much. And as much as I really like the leading doctor played by Margaret Lindsay, who has a career going back to the 1930s, the story is just too wooden and forced. In a way, at the end, I was touched by it all, but as a movie, I hate to say, look elsewhere.
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