BU Film School

Monday, July 24, 2006

FT 553 Reading: Hospital

Film info
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
IMDB link

Synopsis/my notes
Callous characters. Lots of jargon (medical, business, bureaucratic). Narrator in preface -- Guernsey admitted, misdiagnosed and mistreated by Schaefer, who takes advantage of now-empty bed.

Next morning, Schaefer found dead. Herbert Bock called at hotel with news of death. Bock, room in bad shape.

Protesters outside hospital. Language of protestors ("expansionist policies," "imperialist hospital"). Sundstrom when told of Schaefer's death, "Really? I'm sorry to hear that. I understand you've moved out to a hotel." Bock doesn't want days off or therapy, just wants to work.

Bock gets story on Schaefer mishap. "My God, the incompetence here is absolutely radiant!" Bock goes to office, tries to deal with admin stuff, not up to it, goes to see psychiatrist. They talk about depression, son Maoist, drug-dealing daughter, suicidal speculations, impotence. Bock leaves abruptly.

Dr. Ives, one of demonstrators, goes to nephrology lab, sand-bagged from behind.

Bock on way to solarium for case presentations, passes "exotic group" -- Barbara and Indian with minister.

Waiting room, Mrs. Cushing seeking insurance info. Goes to ER (passing several patients), redirected by angry nurse to Holding Room. Asks Mitgang for info, told to leave him alone. Asks other patient. It's Ives, and he's dead. Had been lying there for hours.

Admin staff conference. More bureaucracy. News -- Ives dead. Milton Mead goes to see brother William, who's anxious and upset about not having private room. Milton assures him it's no big deal.

Bock lecturing and diagramming. Lots of medical terms. Heads to check out patient, quizzes doctors en route and at bedside.

Brubaker tells Bock that Barbara wants to take comatose father home. They have a mission among Apache Indians, daughter licensed nurse, can give injections. Brubaker -- shouldn't discharge. Story on Drummond -- Ives did biopsy, nicked a vessel. Welbeck called in, half-stoned, didn't clear for allergies. Nurse goofed on last treatment. Bock: "How am I to sustain my feelings of meaningfulness in the face of this?" Wants to defrock Ives, Welbeck, says to let Drummond go.

Beck seeks Ives, told he's dead. Goes down to pathology, gets story. Hitchcock: "People do die of these things."

Night. Beck in office, drinking. Has made decision. Nurse goes in to give William Mead shot, finds Indian and Barbar performing ritual.

Bock goes to pharmacy, filches potassium and syringe. Overhears nurses talking about ritual. Goes in and sees. "You don't seriously believe all that mumbo-jumbo will cure him?" "On the other hand, it won't kill him, Doctor." Bock says go ahead, use my office to call ambulance service.

Barbara comes into office, calls. Bock watches legs. Barbara talks about background (hers and father's). Father was in doctor, started speaking in tongues, found it was obscure Native American dialect, started mission in Mexico. Barbara followed him, left, cracked up, went back to mountains. Tries to seduce Bock, who says he's been impotent for years. What's wrong with it? "We cure nothing! We heal nothing!" Barbara mistakes suicidal feelings for morbid menopause, he tells her to beat it. She leaves.

Bock prepares to shoot up. Barbara interrupts. He rips off dress, makes love to her.

Nurse Theresa Campanella finishes night shift, exits to lobby. Asks person in doctor's coat for a light. As she smokes her cigarette, is sand-bagged.

Daybreak. Barbara wakes. Bock enters with coffee, nurse's uniform. Wants to keep Drummond, stay for a few days. Barbara -- we're leaving, come with us. "You'd be necessary again." Bock -- you're crazy. Barbara exits -- must settel bill, pack up father, gives Bock time to make decision. Bock -- admits he loves her.

Construction on 1st Ave. People repossess condemned buildings, refuse to obey police order to evacuate. Sundstrom angry about squatters. Welbeck comes, asks for restored privileges, Sundstrom demurs. Welbeck follows him out. Sundstrom remembers Welbeck a medical conglomerate, should be investigated by SEC.

Sundstrom meeting with activists in hospital library. Din. Lot of rhetoric: "imperialistic extensions", etc.

William Mead brought to Holding Room. Stretcher wheeled past, it's Nurse Campanella, mis-ID'd as Mangafranni.

Welbeck talks to surgeons about legality of doctors incorporating in New York. Business jargon, hiding money, draining own hospitals.

Campanella in OR. No pulse, OR jumps into action. Anesthesiologist recognizes not elderly patient, tries to stop Mallory, who keeps massaging chest (cracking ribs in process).

Mangafranni back in room - who's in OR? Campanella opened up.

Meeting going badly, Sundstrom screaming along with everyone else.

Barbara packing. Bock enters room -- you're not going. Hangs father's suit back in closet, notices Schaefer's uniform. Each tries to persuade other. She goes to pay bill, Bock follows, is told about Campanella. Someone asks him about senior staff named Schaefer -- don't have anyone by that name who's senior staff.

Bock back in 806. William Mead sedated. Bock looks out window, thinking. Drummond gets up, tries to strangle Bock with stethoscope. Barbara enters, interrupts. Bock -- he's killed two doctors and a nurse. Drummond -- they were "ritual victims of their own institutions, murdered by irony".

Flashback. Guernsey's story -- "Our Savior". Appears to Drummond -- avenge Guernsey's death and his own coma. Put insulin in IV jar by sleeping Schaefer. Sand-bagged Ives, gave him shot of digoxine (cardiac arrhythmia), brought to ER. Ives had signs and history taken, then was forgotten. Drummond talks to amnesiac, gets idea to switch Mangafranni with Campanella.

Bock -- let's get him out of here. Drummond -- Welbeck left to kill, goes stiff. William Mead overheard. Drummond tells him he's hallucinating again.

Bock goes for shot to give Durmmond, accosted by Welbeck, tells him off. Welbeck retorts, asking him how much he makes a year.

Bock returns to 806, William Mead telling Milton about Drummond, who's disappeared. Milton has call -- fire in condemned building, squatters resisted arrest, riot.

Bock to Barbara -- Drummond's disappeared, after Welbeck, who's on phone right over there. Welbeck -- partner trying to wipe him out. Goes to 806, Bock and Barbara follow. Welbeck takes call, in hole for over $500,000, SEC has suspended trading in his stock, goes into cardiac arrest. Bock and Barbara try to revive him. Cardio team arrives, think it's Drummond. As they work, Bock and Barbara pack up his stuff, go out. Drummond outside in middle of riot, preaching.

Activists break through security, confront Sundstrom, want to take over hospital. He says go ahead.

Throng dissolves, clears lobby, police restoring order. Barbara arrives with ambulance, has Drummond put in, holds doors for Bock. He says he can't leave: "Somebody's got to be responsible." Ambulance pulls away. Bock and Sundstrom go back in.

Class notes (from 7/20/04)
Chayefsky went into hospital with heart condition. Ghastly experience. Quickest way to get sick was to go into hospital. Greed and death. Trickster Drummond. Way out of story crisis was inspired by result of Chayefsky's experience in Mexico, where a bruja (witch) gave him mushrooms. Doctor cures hospital through death.

Scott a mean drunk. Played role straight. When Chayefsky explained his thoughts, Scott threw shoe at him and said let me do the acting, you #$!

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