The Hospital

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The Hospital is a 1971 black comedy film in which a suicidal doctor struggles to find meaning in his life while a murderer stalks the halls of his hospital.

Directed by Arthur Hiller. Written by Paddy Chayefsky.
Behind the lab coat beats the heart of a man who's been pushed to the edge. taglines

Dr. Bock[edit]

  • Now what in hell am I going to tell this boy Schaefer's parents? That a substitute nurse assassinated him because she couldn't tell the doctors from the patients on the floor? My God! The incompetence in this hospital is absolutely radiant... I mean, where do you train your nurses, Mrs. Christie, Dachau!?
  • You're greedy, unfeeling, inept, indifferent, self-inflating, and unconscionably profitable. Besides that, I have nothing against you. I'm sure you play a hell of a game of golf.
  • We've got a 23-year-old boy. I threw him out of the house last year. A shaggy-haired Maoist. I don't know where he is. Presumably, building bombs in basements as an expression of universal brotherhood.
  • I'm middle class. Among us middle class, love doesn't triumph over all - responsibility does.

Barbara Drummond[edit]

  • Within a week, my father had closed his Beacon Hill practice and set out to start a mission in the Mexican Mountains. I turned in my SDS card and my crash helmet, and I followed him. It was a disaster, at least for me. My father had received the revelation, not I. He stood gaunt on a mountain slope and preached the Apocalypse to solemnly amused Indians. I masturbated a great deal. We lived in a grass wickiup, ate raw rabbit and crushed piñon nuts. It was hideous. Within two months, I was back in Boston. A hollow shell, disenchanted with everything, and dizzy with dengue. I turned to austerity, combed my hair tight, entered nursing school. I became haggard, driven - had shamelessly incestuous dreams about my father. I took up with some of the senior staff there. One of them a portly psychiatrist, explained I was generated by an unresolved lust for my father. I cracked up. One day, they found me walking to work naked and screaming obscenities. There was talk of institutionalizing me. So I packed a bag and went back to join my father in the Sierra Madre Mountains. I've been there ever since. That's three years. My father is, of course, as mad as a hatter. I watch over him, and have been curiously content. You see, Doctor, I believe in everything.
  • Mr. Blacktree disapproves of my miniskirt, the only thing I had to come to the city with. Back at the tribe, I wear ankle-length buckskin.
  • You're a very tired, very damaged man. You've had a hideous marriage, I assume a few tacky affairs along the way. You're understandably reluctant to get involved again. On top of that, here I am with this preposterous idea you throw everything up and go off with me to some barren mountains in Mexico. Utterly mad, I know. On the other hand, you obviously find this world as desolate as I do. You did try to kill yourself last night. So that's it, Herb. Either me and the mountains or - a bottle of potassium.

Edmund Drummond[edit]

  • This is Dr. Ives. He's in the Nephrology Lab. I was in there a little while ago, and he was suddenly taken ill, and I thought I'd better get him over here right away. He had at that time perhaps an hour to live. Prompt treatment would have saved his life. As a staff doctor, he was seen without preliminaries... His vital signs were taken, an electrocardiogram... which revealed occasional ventricular premature contractions. An intern took his history... and then he was promptly... simply... forgotten to death.
  • Mislaid. Mislaid among the broken wrists, the chest pains, the scalp lacerations, the man whose fingers were crushed in a taxi door, the infant with a skin rash, the child swiped by a car, the old lady mugged in the subway, the derelict beaten by sailors, the teenage suicide, the paranoids, drunks, asthmatics, the rapes, the septic abortions, the overdosed addicts, the fractures, infarcts, hemorrhages, concussions, boils, abrasions, the colonic cancers, the cardiac arrests - the whole wounded madhouse of our times.


  • Mrs. Cushing: Dr. Spezio, may I see you for a moment, Doctor, if you don't mind? Doctor is this your handwriting, if you don't mind? Am I supposed to read this? Was that a sprain? Was that a broken wrist? I can't read that scribbling. I mean I have to bill these people. I know you doctors are the ministering angels and I'm the bitch from the accounting department, but I've a job to do too. I mean, if you don't mind, Doctor.


Dr. Sundstrom: Herb, do you want to take a couple of days off?
Dr. Bock: No.
Dr. Sundstrom: Go down to Montego Bay, get drunk, get laid, get a little sun?
Dr. Bock: For God's sake, I'm 53 years old, with all the attendant fears. I just left my wife, after 24 years. A standard case of menopausal melancholy.
Dr. Sundstrom: Maybe you wanna see Joe Einhorn.
Dr. Bock: Don't wanna see a psychiatrist. Stop worrying about me. All I got to do is get my ass back to work, I'll be fine. I'm sorry if I caused you concern.

Dr. Einhorn: I see a man exhausted, emotionally drained, riddled with guilt, has been systematically stripping himself of wife, children, friends - isolating himself from the world. Are you impotent?
Dr. Bock: Intermittently.
Dr. Einhorn: What does that mean?
Dr. Bock: It means I haven't tried in so long, I don't know.

Dr. Bock: A man comes into this hospital in perfect health, and in the space of one week, we chop out one kidney, damage another, reduce him to coma, and damn near kill him.
Dr. Brubaker: Yes, sir.
Dr. Bock: You know, Brubaker, last night I sat in my hotel room, reviewing the shambles of my life - and contemplating suicide. I said, "No, Bock. No, don't do it. You're a doctor, you're a healer. You're the Chief of Medicine at one of the great hospitals of the world. You are a necessary person. Your life is meaningful." Then I walk in here, today, and I find out that one of my doctors. was killed by a couple of nurses who mistook him for a patient; because, he screwed a technician from the Nephrology Lab.
Dr. Brubaker: Hematology.
Dr. Bock: And now you come to me with this gothic horror story in which the entire machinery of modern medicine has apparently conspired to destroy one lousy patient. Now, how am I to sustain my feeling of meaningfulness in the face of this?

Edmund Drummond: So at 9:15 this morning I rang for my nurse...
Dr. Bock: Rang for your nurse?
Edmund Drummond: To ensure one full hour of uninterrupted privacy.
Dr. Bock: Good.

Barbara: I don't want my father in this hospital. I had a dream about this hospital. I dreamt this enormous, starched, white-tile building suddenly erupted like a volcano, and all the patients, doctors, nurses, attendants, orderlies, the whole line-staff, food-service people, the aged, the lame, and you, right in the middle, were stampeding in one hideous, screaming, suicidal mass into the sea. I'm taking my father out of here and as quickly as I can.
Dr. Bock: You're really a fruitcake, you know?

Mrs. Cushing: Dr. Spezio. I think one of your patients in here is dead, Dr. Spezio.
Dr. Spezio: Why do you say that, Mrs. Cushing?
Mrs. Cushing: Because he wouldn't give me his Blue Cross number, Dr. Spezio.

Barbara: I fancied you from the first moment you came lumbering down that hallway, upstairs. I said to Mr. Blacktree, "Who's that hulking bear of a man?" Apaches are reverential about bears. Won't eat bear meat, never skin bears. Bears are thought of as both benign and evil, but very strong power. Men with bear power are highly respected and are said to be great healers. "That man," I said, "gets his power from the bear."
Dr. Bock: Swell.

Barbara: I have a thing about middle-aged men.
Dr. Bock: I admire your candor.
Barbara: You've been admiring a lot more than that.
Dr. Bock: You're wasting your time. I've been impotent for years.
Barbara: Rubbish.

Dr. Bock: What the hell is wrong with being impotent? Kids are more hung up on sex than the Victorians. I got a son, 23 years old. I threw him out of the house last year. Pietistic little humbug. He preached universal love, and he despised everyone. Had a blanket contempt for the middle class, even its decencies. He detested my mother because she had a petit bourgeois pride in her son, the doctor. I cannot tell you how brutishly he ignored that rather good lady. When she died, he didn't even come to the funeral. He felt the chapel service was an hypocrisy.

He told me his generation didn't live with lies. I said, 'Listen, everybody lives with lies.' I — I grabbed him by his poncho and I dragged him the length of our seven-room, despicably affluent, middle-class apartment, and I flung him — out! I haven't seen him since. You know what he said to me? He's standing there on the landing, you know, on the verge of tears. He shrieked at me: 'You old fink. You can't even get it up anymore.' That was it, you see. That was his real revolution. It wasn't racism, the oppressed poor, or the war in Vietnam. No, the ultimate American societal sickness was a limp dingus. My God. If there is a despised, misunderstood minority in this country, it is us poor, impotent bastards. Well, I'm impotent, and I'm proud of it. Impotence is beautiful, baby! POWER TO THE IMPOTENT! RIGHT ON, BABY! ...You know, when I say impotent, I don't mean merely limp. Disagreeable as it may be for a woman, a man may lust for other things, something a little less transient than an erection. A sense of permanent worth. That's what medicine was to me, my reason for being.

You know, Miss Drummond, when I was 34, I presented a paper before the annual convention of the Society of Clinical Investigation that pioneered the whole goddamn field of immunology. A breakthrough. I'm in all the textbooks. I happen to be an eminent man, Miss Drummond. You know something else, Miss Drummond? I don't give a goddamn. When I say impotent, I mean I've lost even my desire to work. That's a hell of a lot more primal passion than sex. I've lost my reason for being. My purpose. The only thing I ever truly loved. Well, it is all rubbish, isn't it?

I mean, transplants, anti-bodies. We manufacture genes. We can produce birth ecto-genetically. We can practically clone people like carrots, and half the kids in this ghetto haven't even been inoculated for polio! We have established the most enormous, medical entity ever conceived and people are sicker than ever! WE CURE NOTHING! WE HEAL NOTHING! The whole goddamn wretched world is strangulating in front of our eyes. That's what I mean when I say impotent. You don't know what the hell I'm talking about, do you?...I'm tired. I'm very tired, Miss Drummond. And I hurt. And I've got nothing going for me anymore. Can you understand that?...And you also understand that the only admissible matter left is death.

Barbara: You have a familiar case of morbid menopause. It's hard for me to take your despair seriously, doctor. You obviously enjoy it so much.
Dr. Bock: Bugger off! That's all I need now is clinical insight. Some cockamamie 25 year-old acidhead is gonna reassure me about the menopause now!

Dr. Bock: What do you say, Miss Drummond?
Barbara: I expect you can call me Barbara... considering you ravished me three times last night... .
Dr. Bock: Three times?
Barbara: Oh, look at him pretending he didn't count. You were as puffed up as a toad about it. Punched a couple of holes in your crusade for universal impotence, didn't it? I think we're on first-name basis now.

Dr. Mead: For heaven's sake, William, you're gonna be in the hospital for two lousy days. What are you making such a fuss about?
William Mead: You're supposed to be a big wheel around here.
Milton Mead: There are no private rooms available. If they brought in Jesus Christ fresh off the cross, I couldn't get him a private room.

Barbara: We could really use you down there, you know there's a curiously high incidence of TB. You would be a doctor again, Herb. You would be necessary again. If you love me, I don't see what other choice you have?
Dr. Bock: What do you mean if I love you? I raped you in a suicidal rage, how do we get to love and children all the sudden?


  • Behind the lab coat beats the heart of a man who's been pushed to the edge.
  • Madness, Murder and Malpractice.
  • Watch them operate!
  • I may be crazy, but I think I've operated on the wrong patient.


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