This movie chronicles the trials of the mentally ill and their care-givers in an over-crowded ward of a hospital. Dr. MacLeod (Robert Stack) is a new, optimistic doctor who attempts to ... See full summary »
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This movie chronicles the trials of the mentally ill and their care-givers in an over-crowded ward of a hospital. Dr. MacLeod (Robert Stack) is a new, optimistic doctor who attempts to start an out-patient program for the women in the ward. His method of treating mentally ill patients without violence or punishment is met with resistance by the head nurse, Lucretia Terry (Joan Crawford). During Dr. MacLeod's treatment, the phobias and illnesses of the various women in the test group are explored. Written by
Stacia Kissick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Joan Crawford went out of her way to help an aging Herbert Marshall with his lines. See more »
When Lorna has a mental breakdown in a movie theater and rushes up to freak out on stage in front of screen, it's obvious that film on screen is a rear projection because neither she nor ushers trying to restrain her have projected images on them nor do they cast shadows on screen. See more »
Reminiscent of 1949's "The Snake Pit" in that it treats mental illness in an exploitative manner with patients locked up in dark cages, looking wild and dangerous. "The Snake Pit" was acclaimed in its day despite promoting a misleading and damaging portrait of mental illness. "The Caretakers" was not accorded the same applause, perhaps because people were slowly becoming more sophisticated in regard to mental illness, seeing it as an ILLNESS, although even in 1963 (and probably in 1999, as well), it was still fashionable to equate it with the arm flailing, wild-eyed image created in film. Robert Stack, a one-note actor if there ever was one (he has, post-"Airplane," shown more versatility) swaggers through the film, portraying the doctor the same way he did Eliot Ness, while Polly Bergen as the patient, engages in the kind of histrionics that usually come across as a desperate campaign to snag an Oscar nomination. It's what Clint Eastwood once called "emotional gymnastics." The black and white cinematography is exceptional, however, although it too lends itself to the exploitative nature of the film. All those dark shadows and dimly lit corridors make you wonder if Stack and company will cross paths with Dracula. They might as well because "The Caretakers" is a horror film, and although mental illness can be horrifying, it's irresponsible, to say nothing of insensitive, to portray it for shock value. That is what this film does.
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