- 1h 34m
An actor hired to locate $1 million in stolen loot endures the rigors of an insane asylum.An actor hired to locate $1 million in stolen loot endures the rigors of an insane asylum.An actor hired to locate $1 million in stolen loot endures the rigors of an insane asylum.
Whitman samples the nuts.
A sort of cousin to Samuel Fuller's "Shock Corridor" (a slightly earlier and far more inventive film), this mental ward drama concerns an actor who feigns illness in order to enter a state asylum and discover the whereabouts of one million dollars. McDowall plays a rose-obsessed gardener who snips the head off of his employer and is committed to the state mental hospital (hilariously, he gets 90 days for his crime and then is to be released!) When it is discovered that McDowall may have hidden away a million bucks of his employer's money, Laire hires Whitman to play nutty and enter the same hospital as McDowall in order to find out where it is. Bacall plays a doctor who helped get McDowall off on an insanity plea in the first place and who may be after the money herself. Lynley is a manic-depressive girl who catches Whitman's eye. Before long Whitman finds that it's easier to get into a mental hospital than it is to get out (though getting out doesn't present TOO great a challenge to him either!) The film has a nice assortment of familiar actors in it and a decent score by Jerry Goldsmith, but it's never as interesting or surprising as one might like it to be. Whitman was rarely a deep or particularly detailed actor and his work here is adequate, but unexceptional. McDowall is properly off-center and does a fine job, but isn't really used much. Faring worse is Lynley, whose character is sketchy at best and whose screen time is both limited and mostly unimportant. (Sadly, these two future "The Poseidon Adventure" co-stars share no screen time here.) Bacall does fine as the haughty, embittered doctor overseeing all the cuckoos, but by the end her character and the film's plot line have gone way off the deep end. The ending is preposterous in the extreme. The whole movie suffers from unbelievability, though. It doesn't help matters that the hospital seems more like a retreat or a club than a medical facility. The patients (even newly admitted murderers and other troublemakers) have free reign to do as they please with little supervision and get to smoke anytime they wish, go to dances and just generally hang out and have a good time! To say that the attention paid to mental illness and its cures is superficial is an understatement. This makes "The Caretakers" look like a deep exposé on the subject. Still, it's a fairly brief, occasionally intriguing movie with an interesting enough hook to warrant a look.
- Oct 20, 2004
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