Director: Arthur Hiller
Year Released: 1971
People keep mysteriously dying in the Manhattan-based hospital run by George C. Scott, who is going through a severe state of depression and questions his purpose in life. It's purportedly a "black comedy," although the word "comedy" seems so far removed from what is being shown that it doesn't really belong; the film's theories - that healthy people are ruined by incompetence, that life is basically irrelevant, that doctors only care about kickback and nothing about medical progress, that modern medicine is really no different from shamanism or tribal dancing, etc. - are all presented in the most ominous and disturbing way possible. Things don't always seem to gel - the relationship between Scott and Native American devotee Diana Rigg is not plausible for an instant, rendering the scenes with the two of them as being little more than vapid fluff, Scott's character's background is a bit too familiar territory (the speech he gives to the psychiatrist could have come straight from a manual on acute depression), and screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky's moral platitudes, littered so freely throughout the script, are borderline intolerable (he wants to make sure you don't miss his point). The ending, which is something of a calculated catastrophe, ties everything together all too well, though this is easily overlooked considering the craft with which it was conceived and executed.