This splendid black comedy stars George C Scott as Dr Bock, the Chief of Medicine in a large New York hospital who is investigating a recent spate of inexplicable deaths at the hospital.
Trying to establish how one of his staff has been sedated and then killed by an overdose in place of one of the patients, Dr Bock shouts. His matron remains calm if defensive, blaming the whole thing on an over-complicated system. “Where do you train your nurses, matron?” he bellows, finally. “Dachau?”
Bock is a suicidal, impotent alcoholic, his wife has left him, and his children aren’t speaking to him. His son is an alienated Maoist and his daughter has had three abortions and just been arrested for drug pushing. A typical prosperous American family, he explains laconically.
In the midst of his investigations, he is romantically drawn to the much younger virility-restoring ex-nurse Barbara Drummond (Diana Rigg in her US film debut), whose father is a patient.
The film takes swipes at fashionable radical premises. Buzzing like horse flies around the flanks of the already harassed organisation are a group of assorted activist objecting to the fact that the condemned buildings they live in are to become the site of a new clinic instead of new housing.
Stockard Channing appears in her feature film debut as an uncredited nurse.
The hospital seen in this movie was New York City’s vast Metropolitan Hospital Center. Filming took place on two floors of a new psychiatric centre which was under construction, and not due to start receiving patients until after the shooting had been completed.
Dr Herbert Bock
George C. Scott
Dr Ronald Casey
Dr Bock’s Secretary