The Cider House Rules (1999) Poster

Michael Caine: Dr. Wilbur Larch



  • Dr. Wilbur Larch : Goodnight, you princes of Maine, you kings of New England.

  • [discussing the legality of performing abortions] 

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : I know it's against the law. I ask you, what has the law ever done for this place?

  • [first lines] 

    [Opening narration; a couple of snippets of interspersed dialog are omitted] 

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : In other parts of the world young men leave home and travel far and wide in search of a promising future. Their journeys are often fueled by dreams of triumphing over evil, finding a great love, or the hopes of fortunes easily made. Here in St. Cloud's not even the decision to get off the train is easily made, for it requires an earlier, more difficult decision - add a child to your life, or leave one behind. The only reason people journey here is for the orphanage.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : I came as a physician to the abandoned children and unhappily pregnant women. I had hoped to become a hero. But in St. Cloud's there was no such position. In the lonely, sordid world of lost children, there were no heroes to be found. And so I became the caretaker of many, father of none. Well, in a way, there was one. His name was Homer Wells.

  • Dr. Wilbur Larch : You don't find it depressing that Homer Wells is picking apples?

  • Buster : [digging grave of botched abortion victim]  What did she die of?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : She died of secrecy. She died of... ignorance. Homer, did you expect to be responsible for their children, you have to give them the right to decide whether or not to have children. Wouldn't you agree?

    Homer : I'm not excepting people to be responsible enough to control themselves to begin with.

  • [We see Homer writing to Dr. Larch and hear the words in his voice as we are shown variously relevant scenes] 

    Homer : Dear Dr. Larch. Thank you for your doctor's bag, although it seems that I will not have the occasion to use it, barring some emergency, of course. I am not a doctor. With all due respect to your profession, I'm enjoying my life here. I'm enjoying being a lobsterman and orchardman. In fact, I've never enjoyed myself as much. The truth is, I want to stay here. I believe I'm being of some use.

    [We hear the words Dr. Larch writes back to Homer in response] 

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : My Dear Homer: I thought you were over you adolescence - the first time in our lives when we imagine we have something terrible to hide from those who love us. Do you think it's not obvious to us what's happened to you? You've fallen in love, haven't you? By the way, whatever you're up to can't be too good for your heart. Then again, it's the sort of condition that could be made worse by worrying about it, so don't worry about it.

    [the back and forth correspondence continues interwoven with scenes from Homer's life at the time] 

    Homer : Dear Dr. Larch, What I'm learning her may not be as important as what I learned from you, but everything is new to me. Yesterday, I learned how to poison mice. Field mice girdle an apple tree; pine mice kill the roots. You use poison oats and poison corn. I know what you have to do. You have to play God. Well, killing mice is as close as I want to come to playing God.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : Homer, here in St. Cloud's, I have been given the opportunity of playing God or leaving practically everything up to chance. Men and women of conscience should sieze those moments when it's possible to play God. There won't be many. Do I interfere when absolutely helpless women tell me they simply can't have an abortion - that they simply must go through with having another and yet another orphan? I do not. I do not even recommend. I just give them what they want. You are my work of art, Homer. Everything else has been just a job. I don't know if you have a work of art in you, but I know what your job is: you're a doctor.

    Homer : I'm not a doctor.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : You're going to replace me, Homer. The board of trustees is looking for my replacement.

    Homer : I can't replace you. I'm sorry.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : "Sorry"? I'm not sorry. Not for anything I've done. I'm not even sorry that I love you.

    [Cut to scene of Dr. Larch sitting on a hospital bed reading Homer's letter. He is crest-fallen and one of his nurses sits down to console him] 

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : [Speaking to the nurse]  I think we may have lost him to the world.

  • Homer Wells : Uh, nobody's named this one yet.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : Oh, it's my turn. Henceforth, you shall be Little Dorrit.

    [baby starts crying] 

    Homer Wells : Oh, you don't like that, do you? He's a boy, that's why.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : Can't a boy be Dorrit?

    Homer Wells : I don't think so.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : You do it.

    Homer Wells : OK. Henceforth, you shall be Little Wilbur.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : I'm not crazy about the "Little".

    Homer Wells : OK, just Wilbur then.

  • Fuzzy : Is your father dead?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : Cirrhosis. It's a disease of the liver.

    Fuzzy : What, a liver killed him?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : No, alcohol killed him. He drank himself to death.

    Fuzzy : But did you know him?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : Barely. But it hardly mattered that I knew him.

    Fuzzy : Did you know your mother better?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : Mm-hmm. She's dead now too. She was a nanny.

    Fuzzy : What's a nanny do?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : She looks after other people's children.

    Fuzzy : Did she grow up around here?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : No. She was an immigrant.

    Fuzzy : What's an immigrant?

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : Someone not from Maine.

  • Homer Wells : [giving back an X-ray that Dr. Larch gave to him]  I don't need this. I know about my condition.

    Dr. Wilbur Larch : It's your heart. You ought to take it with you.

See also

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