The Hospital (1971)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Satire, Medical Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 14, 1971 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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A piece of early '70s social commentary and a de facto warm-up for Network (1976), writer Paddy Chayefsky takes on the medical system in The Hospital (1971). Devised as a satire that could later pass for social realism in an HMO-ruled culture, the matter-of-fact pre-credits voice-over accounting how medical malfeasance resulted in an empty bed for a sexual tryst caustically sets the tone for what follows. Bureaucracy, publicity-hungry "radical" protesters, murders, overcrowding, and sloppy medicine are but a few of the problems that push George C. Scott's honorable Dr. Bock to the suicidal edge. Hippie Diana Rigg's invitation to flee south of the border actually makes sense. Bock's death wish illuminates the genuine pathos and hopelessness caused by the systemic breakdown, but the near-slapstick climax and final cynical summation by Bock's colleague inject bitter levity into the drama. Coming off his blockbuster success with Love Story (1970), director Arthur Hiller earned artistic kudos and a prize at the Berlin Film Festival for The Hospital. Dr. Bock's despair, passion, and resignation earned recalcitrant Oscar-winner Scott another nomination for Best Actor. Chayefsky himself won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, an award he would win again for Network's satirical attack of TV culture.