Wednesday, May 23, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Hospital (1971) - Order Only in Hindsight

[Quick Summary:  One night at the hospital, a chief of staff on his last straw faces several crises, including  intertwining staff deaths, and an odd young woman.]

This is a crazy-assed script.

I honestly had no idea where the story was going.

First, I worried about Dr. Herbert Bock, the crotchety doctor with every reason to be suicidal. 
 
Then I got upset when the deaths of various hospital staffers interrupted Dr. Bock's story.

(It was like commercials interrupting your favorite soap opera.)

I didn't care as much that the hospital had run amok.

I just wanted to know if Dr. Bock was going to make it.

Here's kicker #1: I didn't even like Dr. Bock.  But I still worried.

Here's kicker #2: The various staff deaths are important in the end to Dr. Bock's final decision.

Chayefsky did it again:

1) He made me care about a character I did not like.
2) He brought order out of what looked like chaos on the page.
3) It was a surprising journey.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: This is a technically difficult script.

To keep the chaos going while leaving clues and also not lose the audience? Very thin line.

The Hospital (1971)
by Paddy Chayefsky

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