If anyone doubts that the need for health care reform is long overdue, check out the nearly 40 year old hidden gem The Hospital. This 1971 Arthur Hiller film was conceived with the nasty sardonic wit of Oscar winning screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky.
Fresh off his Oscar for Patton, George C. Scott is brilliant as the disillusioned Dr. Herb Bock, a 53 year old, dedicated medical professional who has become an alcoholic and suicidal due to the termination of his 24 year marriage. He suffers from both sexual impotence and career malaise.
All hell breaks loose at his Manhattan Medical Center when an intern is inexplicably found dead in a patient’s bed, a perfectly healthy middle aged man receives elective surgery and lapses into a coma, a female patient nearly dies in the OR when she’s mistaken for another older patient and a native American witch doctor offers an elderly patient a special remedy; while outside the hospital a community group protests the hospital’s expansion and neglect of the local residents.
The peak moment of Scott’s Oscar nominated performance occurs in a nearly five minute monologue where he rants to the hippie daughter of an eccentric patient, who he later seduces in a drunken rage. “We cure nothing! We heal nothing”, he shouts in utter frustration and dismay.
Mirroring the fiery social angst of his next project Network, Chayefsky’s script for The Hospital was awarded the Oscar for best original screenplay.