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Number: TWILIGHT310-BR

Starring:  George C. Scott, Barnard Hughes, Stephen Elliott, Diana Rigg, Nancy Marchand, Richard A. Dysart
Directed By:  Arthur Hiller
Composed By:  Morris Surdin

“This blisteringly cynical satire, written by Paddy Chayefsky, is one of the darkest movies ever made, a cold-eyed lament for a society torn apart by the upheavals of the Sixties.”
– Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“A very serious, very funny melodramatic farce…Mr. Hiller works beautifully with Mr. Chayefsky…he obtains excellent performances from his stars, from Mr. Scott and especially from Diana Rigg.”
– Vincent Canby, The New York Times

Paddy Chayefsky’s magnificently dark comedy, The Hospital (1971), handsomely directed by Arthur Hiller, stars a magisterial George C. Scott as the deeply depressed Head of Medicine at a Manhattan teaching hospital where, over one long night, everything falls apart. The doc’s incipient suicide is interrupted only by the arrival of a seductive young woman (the delightful Diana Rigg), the daughter of a crazed patient (Barnard Hughes); she gives him something to live for and helps him get to the bottom of the bizarre sudden deaths suddenly plaguing the cold-hearted medical institution.

VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
1971 / Color
RATED PG-13 Thematic Elements, Sexual Content and Drug References

Special Features: Isolated Music & Effects Track / Original Theatrical Trailer

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

Reviews and Comments: (1)
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Posted by Mark Turner on January 4, 2018 1:16 PM
Long before there was a healthcare crisis that needed addressed by Obamacare there was…a health care crisis that was never fully addressed. Nearly 40 years before the government took action writer Paddy Chayefsky used it for a satirical film called THE HOSPITAL.

George C. Scott stars as Dr. Herbert Bock, a suicidal chief doctor at a busy hospital in New York City. His life a mess, his marriage on the rocks and his desire to tackle the problems of the hospital dwindling leave him a shattered man.

When the film opens he’s faced with one problem on top of another. The most pressing at the moment is the fact that an intern of the hospital has been found dead in an unoccupied bed in one of the rooms. Herein lies the issue with hospitals at the time, an inability to cope with the influx of patients and to keep up with paperwork.

The intern in question was having sex with another staff member in a bed vacated when the patient there passed away. Falling asleep in the bed the night staff had no idea the previous patient had left and gave the sleeping intern the IV that patient was supposed to get killing him. But this is not the only case where this happens. Later on another doctor is found dead in the ER unit, dead from being ignored once his medical issue was diagnosed and he was moved.

Bock rages against the way things are being done, both at nurses and at hospital higher ups. In addition to the deaths of two doctors and later a nurse, he must contend with a fellow surgeon whose botched efforts have caused him grief in the past. Dr. Welbeck (Richard Dysart) is more interested in how to make money off of his patients than he is in curing or taking care of them. That’s led to numerous screwed up surgeries that Bock and his team have had to cover for.

In the middle of all of this Bock meets the daughter of an ex-medical man in a coma in the hospital. Drummond (Barnard Hughes) left medicine behind and went off to study Native Americans in a small Mexican town. His daughter Barbara (Diana Rigg) followed, leaving behind her problematic past life. Now she wants to take him back to that small village rather than leave him there for testing.

As Barbara and Bock discuss the situation both open up to one another in his office. She tells him her life story and he in return discusses his lack of interest in what’s going on around him, his loss of faith in humanity that has left him battered and bruised emotionally. In the end they sleep together and talk of him running away with her comes up.

But there is something afoot in the hospital. In addition to the protests going on outside on the sidewalk as the hospital expands and evicts tenants from the properties they live in, the mix ups in the various departments, the inability to get answers to simple questions like do you have Blue Cross and more, it turns out the mysterious deaths of the staff are anything but natural. A serial killer has apparently found his/her way into the system. Is there any hope for this hospital?

While this may not sound like a comedy there are comedic moments in the film. Chayefsky was a master of dialogue and this film puts that front and center. It may not be his best example (for that see NETWORK) but it does show that in the right hands a screenwriter is just as important as the director in some cases. His work here makes the chaotic land of the modern big city hospital as a place of danger as well as of healing seem as real as it can be.

Director Arthur Hiller also shows a definite skill here. Known for movies like LOVE STORY, THE OUT OF TOWNERS, THE IN LAWS and SILVER STREAK, this film shows a more acid tongued approach to comedy than some of his other films. In most cases it works but when the film is over you’re left thinking that the chances of change are limited at best and unexpected at worst.

Scott is always a joy to watch in any film but I honestly felt he was not as keen here as in other films. His character seems to rage too often but when he’s reflecting on his life he provides a dynamite performance. Rigg here is underused and shows little of the talent she’s displayed in other films and on TV. Dysart is truly slimy here and does the job incredibly well. But it is Chayefsky who shines more than the rest with his writing.

Twilight Time is releasing this film on blu-ray and once more has done a great job with the presentation picture wise. Extras are limited to an isolated score and effects track and the original theatrical trailer. They are once more limiting this to just 3,000 copies so if interested make sure you get one right away.

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