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The Caretakers (1963)

Approved | | Drama | 21 August 1963 (USA)
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 »


Hall Bartlett


Henry F. Greenberg (screenplay), Hall Bartlett (screen story) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Robert Stack ... Dr. Donovan MacLeod
Polly Bergen ... Lorna Melford
Diane McBain ... Alison Horne
Joan Crawford ... Lucretia Terry
Janis Paige ... Marion
Van Williams ... Dr. Larry Denning
Constance Ford ... Nurse Bracken
Sharon Hugueny ... Connie
Herbert Marshall ... Dr. Jubal Harrington
Barbara Barrie ... Edna
Ellen Corby ... Irene
Ana María Lynch ... Ana (as Ana St. Clair)
Robert Vaughn ... Jim Melford
Susan Oliver ... Nurse Cathy Clark
Virginia Munshin Virginia Munshin ... Ruth


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 <srm12@ksu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Now the screen tells what makes a woman - and what breaks her!




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 August 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Almas en tinieblas See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Writer and associate producer Jerry Paris has a cameo as a passer-by that Lorna bumps into on the street. 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 »


Featured in Hollywood: The Great Stars (1963) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A movie that's not nearly as bad as others have made it out to be...
29 March 2010 | by UNOhwenSee all my reviews

Yes - I've read other critiques posted here. A large consensus focus on THE CARETAKERS being a poor-man's THE SNAKE PIT. Others focus on Joan Crawford being, well - Joan Crawford.

Yes, you can go on about both of those, but I'd like to take a different tact.

First, let me say this film is NOT a 'Grand-Guignol' picture of the era, a 'la WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, or HUSH, HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, which several people commenting have alluded it might be, give the fact that Joan Crawford is in it, and this WAS made at that time.

I'd like to start off by saying THE CARETAKERS is an entertaining film, with some fine performances by many familiar faces, amongst them are Robert Vaughn (THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.), Van Willaims (GREEN HORNET), Janis Page, Barbara Barrie, Ellen Corby (THE WALTONS, and my personal favourite - Susan Oliver (THE CAGE - STAR TREK: TOS) and more.

While THE CARETAKERS does come across as a 'message' film, and given the time does seem somewhat campy, some of the treatment ideas proposed for the patients were - at the time - considered radical. Polly Bergen whose character Lorna introduces us to the film (having a breakdown at a packed movie theatre)must've really spent a good amount of time doing research. When Polly's character gets E.C.T., (electroconvulsive therapy - or, as it was better known then SHOCK THERAPY) she twists, pulls. Susan Oliver as the young nurse in training is very uneasy during this, and so was I.

Yes - some of the film does draw comparisons to better known films, but, I think that the film tries to give what was at the time - an 'honest' portrayal of a psychiatric hospital, and the (modern) changes that were taking place at that time - their effect on the doctors and nurses who both administered these treatments, and the effect these treatments had on a group of patients.

If the cast was less professional, it could've easily veered into farce, but given the talent, THE CARETAKERS is an engrossing, if a bit 'soapish' film.

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