Blu-ray Review: The Hospital - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Satirical The Hospital packs a painfully funny punch as it eviscerates the state of the medical industry in the early 1970s. Paddy Chayefsky won an Oscar (and practically every other major award) for his screenplay. Star George C. Scott was nominated for Best Actor (the year after his famous rejection of the Oscar, which he received for Patton). This 1971 Arthur Hiller-directed film is a trip and a half due to its pull-no-punches depiction of a medical facility on the brink of collapse. Twilight Time has issued it on Blu-ray for the first time as a limited (3,000 units) edition.

Scott plays Dr. Herbert Bock, Chief of Medicine at a New York City teaching hospital. Dr. Bock is undergoing a personal crisis. Contemplating suicide, he is driven to consult with the hospital's head of psychiatry. But Bock seems essentially committed to ending his life as a result of personal and professional problems. His hospital has been wracked by controversy following unexplained in-house deaths of members of staff. 
TheHospital_BDBooklet.png Enter young, beautiful Barbara Drummond (Diana Rigg), whose father (Barnard Hughes) has been admitted for in-patient treatment. Bock's world is turned upside down by his attraction to Barbara. The insurmountable chaos of the hospital is suddenly balanced out by the presence of this beguiling, free-spirited woman. But amidst the incompetency of much of the hospital staff, not to mention a controversial takeover by the hospital of a flophouse apartment building, Dr. Bock must solve the mystery behind the recent spate of deaths.

The dialogue crackles and the performances, specifically George C. Scott's tremendous turn, simply must be seen. The Hospital is very much of a film of its era, which can only be viewed as a positive. Daring, complex, and uncompromising, The Hospital is a somewhat forgotten, but still relevant, gem.

Twilight Time's Blu-ray presentation is solid, if somewhat unremarkable. The visuals—white-walled hospitals with gown-wearing patients and scrub-clad staff—didn't carry a whole lot of "wow factor" in '71, much less now. But the transfer is relatively crisp and high in detail. The lossless DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack is similarly utilitarian, but very clean.

Extra features? Just Twilight Time's customary isolated score track (Morris Surdin did the music) and the original theatrical trailer. Visit Twilight Time's official site or that of their official distributor Screen Archives for ordering information while supplies last.


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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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