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Anyone who has spent time working in a hospital or medical facility has got to appreciate this film. The plot is absolutely wild but entertaining from start to finish. The acting is superb. George C. Scott is the brilliant doctor but class A failure as husband, father. Diana Riggs, a sex symbol of the 1960s and 1970s (of The Avengers), saves him from himself. The surrounding cast is superb and the dialogue quite entertaining. I think I enjoyed the film more on viewing it the 4th., 5th. or 6th. time because I caught that much more of the richness of the dialogue and the interplay of the characters. Well worth seeing again and again. You just won't want to check in to a hospital in the near future.
Certainly the highlight of this film is it's cast.
Diana Rigg, George C. Scott, Bernard Hughes to mention a few.
I have accumulated more time in hospitals and with doctors over the years than I care to think about.
This comedy attacks the pomp and pretension in all aspects of our society, through the setting of one of it's "Most Haughty" institutions... the Medical profession.
The idea that such goings on could be possible, might be a shock to some, but is a delight to anyone with the perspective of experience.
Dr Brock (Scott) undergoes a mid-life crisis of monumental proportions before our eyes as we, and he, become enamored with the prospect of his involvement with Miss Drummond (Rigg).
The thread of the absurd is woven into this wonderful mix in the form of the irony that the Hospital appears to be killing it's own workers as they mismanage their affairs in it.
The climax is unpredictable (unless you've seen it) and made even more hilarious if you happen to guess.
It's not everyone's brand of humor, to be sure, and has uproariously funny "Dark Moments" if you're open to them.
I loved every minute, and was delighted to see it out on DVD.
I had never paid much attention to this flick until I learned that Paddy Chayefsky - author of the brilliant "Network" - was the scriptwriter. His work there had instructed me as to his genius, so when 'Hospital' appeared on TMC, I was anxious to see it. I was not disappointed. Looking at both this film and "Network" it would seem that his big theme is the absurdity, inanity, and sheer viciousness of large human enterprises (e.g., hospitals, networks) against the sanctity of individual experience and the human spirit, and all of it delivered with a knife-edge sense of utterly black humor. "Hospital" is as black of a comedy as "Network" is, and the excellent cast, led by the incomparable Scott, does his work full justice. This is a keeper; definitely not to miss.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A profoundly disturbing character study more than anything, this film, masterfully written by Paddy Chayefsky, manages to convey such bitterness and disgust in it's point of view, it can not even be topped by the also Chayefsky stamped 'Network'. Thinly disguised as a black comedy, this is the tale of Herbert Bock, whose family problems and working issues - the huge Manhattan hospital in which he works in is as civilized as a concentration camp - lead him to contemplate suicide. Then, beautiful Diana Rigg - thee who knows Dame Diana solely as a Bond Girl, does not know her AT ALL - steps into the dreary settings, - Barbara, the character she perfectly portrays, is there to take her mentally ill father, which just happens to be a serial, gospel-bound, murderer, out of the madness of the hospital - , and into George C. Scott's seemingly frozen heart... Events do not lead to a happy ending. Events do not lead to an ending at all... however, it exposes the never ending cycle life is reduced to. Joy, bliss... several feelings revolving one's own being, no matter what surrounds him... and all these several feelings leading you right back where you've started. It's like Chayefsky was trying to say how meaningless and plodding existing is... If you can't understand anything I just said, you will, as soon as you hear the last line... "It's like p***ing in the wind... right, Herb?"...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you liked Paddy Chayevsky's "Network" you'll probably like this
black comedy as well, as it's another brilliant Chayevsky script, a
wonderful satire on big-city hospitals and a perfect vehicle for Geo.
C. Scott. He plays a burned-out chief of medicine on the most chaotic
day he or his hospital have ever seen. His personal crisis is coming to
a head and his hospital's falling down around him, as local residents
demonstrate against the hospital and patients and doctors are dying at
an alarming rate, thanks to a biblically-inspired and murderous
saboteur. The latter, who theatrically declares himself the "Fool for
Christ," "Parakleet of Kaborka," "Wrath of the Lamb," and "Angel of the
Bottomless Pit," bops doctors on the head, administers lethal
injections and swaps patients' identities, causing treatments and
operations to be performed on the wrong persons.
This film makes you uncomfortable, as deadly mistakes like these do happen (hopefully not so many, not so often and not in one place) and at the same time makes you laugh at the priceless character portraits. One is Richard Dysart ("L.A. Law") as Dr. Wellbeck, a sort of celebrity surgeon who spends far more time worrying about his investments and publicly-traded stock than about his patients, who suffer lethally from his vast indifference and neglect. There's Diana Rigg as free-spirited, hippie-ish Barbara Drummond, who seduces the beleaguered chief of medicine (Scott) and tries to get him to run away with her. Then there's the deluded murderer, who happens to be Barbara's father and who "functions well enough" back at the Indian reservation where he lives with his daughter and even runs a clinic, but who's pushed to madness merely by being placed back in civilization. The strongest portrait by far is Scott's Dr. Bock, who bares his soul as former boy genius, failed father and husband, brilliant doctor and responsible administrator, who constantly dreams of suicide but must bear up under the demands of his job. Scott is exceptional in this demanding role.
Until the final scenes one doesn't know if Bock will leave the hospital behind for Barbara's Indian reservation and a quieter, simpler life, whether her murderous father will be caught or whether the protesting, rioting locals will take over and bring the hospital to its knees. Watching the crazed killer at work, one suspects Chayevsky is telling us our lunatic society makes him do these things, as we're told he's a different person away from cities and people.
As my own father was the chief administrator of a number of large hospitals over the years, I had some idea of the demands of his job and the huge responsibility he shouldered. This story makes that responsibility the linchpin on which Scott's crisis turns. This is both a funny and scary film, with the actors up to the considerable demands of Chayevsky's script. It's also a film I get more out of each time I watch it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Absolutely corrosive! Director Arthur Hiller and writer Paddy Chayefsky dismantle the American hospital system with this wicked comedy/drama/whodunit. The hospital depicted here is fraught with problems...from protesting neighbors to irate patients to a potential serial killer on the loose. George C. Scott is the top doctor who, on the brink of his own nervous breakdown, gets involved with free-spirited Diana Rigg and her wacky father Barnard Hughes. Alternately depressing and uproarious, THE HOSPITAL features some of the most acid-tinged dialog imaginable (note how Scott describes his love making session with Rigg). It also has a lot of great vignettes: Scott berating head nurse Nancy Marchand after one of here underlings accidentally kills a doctor; daffy administrator Frances Sternhagen trying desperately to collect insurance info from a waiting room full of sick people; Scott getting sobering advice from the hospital psychiatrist after telling him of his woeful home-life. All of the acting is first-rate. Scott and Rigg are dynamite and Hughes is a real surprise. The movie is a masterpiece with Chayefsky's script earning a well-deserved Oscar (over such stiff competition as KLUTE & Sunday, BLOODY Sunday). The opening narration is priceless.
George Scott gave the performance of a lifetime in Paddy Chayefsky's THE HOSPITAL, a very dark drama about an aging big city hospital and a middle-aged physician on the verge of suicide. Along comes Diana Rigg as a free spirit determined to save him from himself. Their dialog crackles, and it is clear they are made for each other from the outset. But will she save him? Their one sex scene is both graphic and memorable for its passion and fury. Meanwhile, the hospital is under siege by a group of agitators who don't want it to turn a condemned building into a cancer center. And a serial killer is loose in the hospital, specializing in doctors and nurses. A good part of the movie, though, is squarely focused on Scott. As it should be. What a difference a few years made back when this movie was made. 1962 had given us THE INTERNS, a hokey, old-fashioned reworking of DR. KILDARE with terrible acting and a cardboard script. Along came 1971 and THE HOSPITAL. Less than 10 years later. Hollywood did something right for a change. Watching THE HOSPITAL today is a reminder of how much medical shows like ST. ELSEWHERE and SCRUBS owe to this enduring classic. And if THE HOSPITAL reminds you of NETWORK, it should. Same scripter.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This satire on the theater of the absurd is downright scary--possibly
because so much of it accurately depicts the havoc that goes on in any given
day at any metropolitan hospital. There are truths revealed in much of the
dialogue--and the expert cast makes the most of the wonderful lines Paddy
Chayefsky gives them. But the standout performance is delivered by George C.
Scott in surely what must be one of his most amazing turns as an actor. His
suicide monologue scene with Diana Rigg is played brilliantly--he gets to
the heart of his character with such savage passion that it blows you
Having said all that, as entertainment the film sometimes seems too absurd for comfort. The revelation that Rigg's father is behind much of the mayhem comes as a surprise--but is made incredible when he recounts how easily he went about manipulating things so that the wrong patients got operated on, etc. It's all a bit too hard to swallow, even for the purposes of black comedy. Diana's concern for her mad father is also not easy to understand given his penchant for murderous behavior.
A film guaranteed to keep you from wanting to go anywhere near a hospital--the one depicted here is a virtual snake pit!! You have to keep reminding yourself--it's only a movie.
Along the way there are some really hilarious moments as a "by the book" nurse asks patients for their Blue Cross numbers as they lie in agony on stretchers or dutifully checks her charts with doctors whose handwriting she can't read. "How am I going to write up the charges?" she whines. Reminds me of the doctor sketch Elaine May and Mike Nichols used to perform on the old Ed Sullivan Show.
Read a biography of the late George C. Scott and you'll discover why he was so enormously talented. He was asked by an interviewer what his secret was when making each character he played his own. Scott replied, he possessed inside him a burning fire which drove him. In one of his last interviewers, he sadly revealed he had lost the drive. This was not the case when he starred in the movie, "The Hospital." In this offering, he plays talented doctor Bock, medical director of one of the finest hospitals in the country. However, life has dealt him some crippling problems, such as losing his wife to a divorce, becoming alienated from both his promising children and worse of all, believing himself to be physically impotent. At this point, he is now becoming complacent, morose and frequently fantasizes various ways of committing suicide. To add to his growing list of personal obstacles, his main reason for being, his hospital has come under siege by students and neighborhood protesters, incompetent doctors like Dr. Welbeck (Richard Dysart) and a mysterious MD. who is killing both patients and doctors alike, because he believes he is "the Wrath of the Lamb." (Barnard Hughes). Few choices are left to Bock. One is promising doctor Brubaker (Robert Walden) whom he confides in by saying, "If there were an oven around here, I would put my head in it." The second is a luscious young woman, named Barbara who is attracted to Bock because he acts like a wounded bear. Paddy Chayefsky wrote the screen-play and Arthur Hiller did an extremely good job of directing this dramatically interesting, dark story, but a vehicle nonetheless, lit by the fire of George C. Scott. ****
Anybody who goes to the Manhattan Hospital Center is taking his life in
his hands. That includes the staff of The Hospital.
I had never seen The Hospital before and I was intrigued at how similar the characters and situations of the plot were to that other Paddy Chayefsky masterpiece, Network. There are elements in George C. Scott's character that have both Al Schumacher's and Howard Beale's.
He's the administrator of The Hospital and he's mad as hell and not going to take it any more. He's completely estranged from his wife and kids. It takes a Faye Dunaway type character in the person of Diana Rigg to make him snap out of it. One roll in the hay with her and he's shocked back to reality and the fact he still can contribute in the world.
But first he's got a real problem. Someone is out killing hospital staff, four of them in a 48 hour period. And the nice part is their deaths can be attributed to in large part to the general incompetence of a medical bureaucracy. That's where the comedy comes in.
There is an actual Howard Beale type character in the person of Barnard Hughes, Diana Rigg's father. His end is not quite as dramatic as Beale's though.
Back in my working days it was part of my job to pay medical suppliers. Some of them could be as big creeps as you'll find portrayed in The Hospital. The black comedy satire had some real bite to it for me.
George C. Scott was nominated for Best Actor, but having won and refused to accept the previous year's Oscar for Patton, he wasn't about to get a second chance. He lost to Gene Hackman for The French Connection. Still his handling of the role is unforgettable.
Try viewing The Hospital back to back with Network and see how many similarities you spot.
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