By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: Corruption at a hospital.
It’s funny how names like Ed Wood Jr. or Tommy Wiseau get mentioned in just about anyone’s list of bad movie director’s, but Rod Amateau’s never does, but should. Not only did he produce ‘My Mother the Car’ and ‘Supertrain’, which are considered two of the worst TV-series ever to be broadcast, but he also directed the notorious Garbage Pail Kids as well as Son of Hitler and The Statue, which featured a jealous David Niven going around the bathrooms and gay bathhouses of London looking for a man whose penis matches the one that his wife created for a life-sized statue that she says replicates her lovers.
While this film isn’t quite as bad as those it comes close. It stars Peter Sellers who was at a career nadir due to financial mismanagement and willing to take on any low budget job offer he was given. Here he plays the corrupt head of a hospital that uses an array of schemes to bilk patients and insurance companies out of thousands of dollars. Rick Lenz plays a patient who becomes aware of the shenanigans going on and tries to bring Sellers and his staff down, but finds that they seem to have a trick up their proverbial sleeves at every turn.
The film manages to have a few amusing moments, but comes off more like a gag reel than a story. The characters are exaggerated and unlikable. We are supposed to side with Lenz and his predicament, but he so stupidly allows the doctors to take advantage of him at the beginning that it becomes hard to. The whole thing gets sillier by the second until by the end it’s completely inane. It also makes light of some serious issues that were handled better in Paddy Chayefsky’s The Hospital, which came out just 8 months before this one.
To some degree it’s fun seeing Sellers, who was noted for his wide range of dialects, taking a stab at an American accent and he almost pulls it off except for a few moments including the one where he pronounces orifice as AW-ifice.
The supporting cast made up of lesser known talents proves to be game here. Pat Morita, still years away from his breakout role in The Karate Kid, is genuinely amusing as a lab tech with an inferiority complex and at one point even speaks in a British accent. Harold Gould is good as an incompetent Dr. and J. Edward McKinley, best known for his many appearances on ‘Bewitched’ as one of McMahon and Tate’s primary clients, is funny as the Hospital commissioner who relentlessly tries to nab Sellers and eventually after repeated missed opportunities is able to.
In better hands this might’ve had a chance, but the low budget, irritating country music soundtrack and cheap jokes pretty much sink this thing before it even has a chance to get started.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: September 29, 1972
Runtime: 1Hour 28Minutes
Director: Rod Amateau
Studio: Cinerama Releasing Corporation
Available: None at this time.