Original theatrical poster
|Directed by||Hall Bartlett|
|Produced by||Hall Bartlett|
|Screenplay by||Hall Bartlett|
|Story by||Hall Bartlett
|Based on||The Caretakers
by Dariel Telfer
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein|
|Edited by||William B. Murphy|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|August 21, 1963|
|Box office||$2,050,000 (US/Canada) $1,110,000 (Foreign) [page needed]|
The screenplay was adapted by Henry F. Greenberg from a story by Hall Bartlett and Jerry Paris based on the 1959 novel The Caretakers by Dariel Telfer. The film was produced and directed by Bartlett, co-produced by Paris and distributed by United Artists. The Caretakers is reminiscent of a 20th Century Fox film set in a similar hospital, The Snake Pit (1948).
Young, optimistic psychiatrist Dr. Donovan MacLeod wants to prove his theory that mental patients can benefit from group therapy. His method of treatment, with no violence or punishment, is met with a great deal of resistance from his unyielding and self-righteous head nurse, Lucretia Terry, who believes in traditional methods such as strait-jackets and padded cells for treating the mentally ill.
Head of the hospital Dr. Harrington is weak-willed. Terry's assistant, nurse Bracken, supports her superior's stand. After much trial and error and the harrowing near-rape of a patient, MacLeod's ideas prevail in spite of the opposition and meet some success.
Patients include a distraught mother, Lorna Medford; a former prostitute, Marion; a pyromaniac, Edna, and a former schoolteacher, Irene.
- Joan Crawford as Lucretia Terry
- Robert Stack as Dr. MacLeod
- Polly Bergen as Lorna Medford
- Constance Ford as Nurse Bracken
- Herbert Marshall as Dr. Harrington
- Janis Paige as Marion
- Barbara Barrie as Edna
- Ellen Corby as Irene
- Diane McBain as Alison
- Sharon Hugueny as Connie
- Susan Oliver as Cathy
- Ana St. Clair as Ana
- Robert Vaughn as Jim Melford
- Van Williams as Dr. Larry Denning
- Virginia Munshin as Ruth
Co-writer/co-producer Jerry Paris also appears in The Caretakers as a passerby Lorna bumps into on the street.
Joan Crawford arranged for each day's scenes with veteran actor Herbert Marshall, an old friend who was in frail health, to be shot first, thus allowing him to finish his work early in the day.
Variety commented, "Miss Crawford doesn't so much play her handful of scenes as she dresses for them, looking as if she were en route to a Pepsi board meeting", and called the film a "superficial, ineptly-plotted drama" Bosley Crowther of The New York Times noted, "Altogether, this woman's melodrama is shallow, showy, and cheap - a badly commercial exploitation of very sensitive material."
Despite some negative reviews, the film went on to gross over $3 million worldwide, ranking #57 on Variety's list of top grossing films.
Awards and nominations
The Caretakers received an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White:Lucien Ballard. It also received Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Motion Picture Actress - Drama: Polly Bergen, and Best Motion Picture Director: Hall Bartlett.
The Caretakers was released on Region 1 DVD on April 15, 2010 through Amazon.com as part of the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
- "Top Rental Features of 1963", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 71. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
- The United Artists Story by Ronald Bergen
- Variety film review; July 3, 1963, page 6.
- Quirk, Lawrence J.; Schoell, William (2002). Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography. University Press of Kentucky. p. 213. ISBN 0-813-12254-6.
- University of Southern California; Division of Cinema; American Film Institute; Center for Understanding Media. Filmfacts, Volume 6. p. 180.
- "The Top Box-Office Hits of 1963", Variety Weekly, January 7, 1963.