Back to top

The Caretakers

Robert Stack, Polly Bergen, Diane McBain, Joan Crawford, Janis Paige, Van Williams, Constance Ford, Sharon Hugueny
Spoiler alert
Blog entry

Bereaved mother Lorna, distracted, sits down in a movie theater. (0:03)

Apparently suffering from sensory overload from the movie, Lorna sweats, screams, and runs onto the stage in front of the screen. (0:05)

Now at Canterbury State Hospital we see Lorna restrained on a stretcher. (0:07)

We see a document entitled "Order of Commitment (Insane)" dated July 3, and 1962. It is rubberstamped "INSANE." (0:08)

Psychiatrist Dr. MacLeod removes Lorna's restraints and introduces himself. She licks her wrists, tries to escape and struggles with Dr. MacLeod. As he puts a pill in her mouth he tells her it is "something for sleep." (0:10)

Dr. MacLeod and nurse Alison tour the women's ward. (0:13)

Dr. MacLeod asks patient Freddy whether he is hearing voices again. (0:14)

Lorna's husband Jim tells Dr. MacLeod about "when our little boy was killed." (0:17)

Dr. MacLeod asks Lorna, "Do you know where you are?" (0:22)

Dr. MacLeod leads a psychotherapy group. (0:23)

Nurse watching a video monitor comments, "So that's the new deal in group therapy." (0:28)

Dr. MacLeod asks a group of nurses, "Well, what'd you think of our borderlines?" The nurse replies, "Some of them seem... insane." (0:29)

Dr. MacLeod explains to the group of nurses, "You've seen these women, disturbed, psychotic, miserable... The group fights to be normal." He then switches the video monitor to the "regressed ward." (0:30)

During a meeting with psychiatrist Jubal and nurse Lucretia Dr. MacLeod says there is "proof that even extreme mental illness can be helped by group therapy."

Dr. MacLeod wheels Lorna into a room for electroconvulsive therapy. He straps electrodes around her head, inserts a mouth guard, and initiates the treatment. We see a typical tonic and clonic response. (0:36)

We see patients in a row of bathtubs. Psychiatrist Larry tells a nurse it "brings her out of depression." (0:38)

Group psychotherapy. (0:47)

Lorna recalls, and blames herself for, the death of her son: "I killed my baby." (0:50)

Dr. MacLeod tells other staff, "Bracken deliberately slapped a defenseless catatonic patient..." (1:00)

At a picnic for patients and staff patient Marion (?) cuts in to dance with psychiatrist Larry. (1:06)

Dr. MacLeod directs technicians to restrain Lorna. (1:16)

Mute patient Edna in group psychotherapy. (1:17)

Dr. MacLeod tells nurse Connie Hal his mentally ill father "committed suicide..." (1:28)

Edna pours liquid onto a cloth from a can marked "ether" and sets it aflame. (1:32)

As the film ends these words appear on the screen: "We are the caretakers of their hope -- their future." (1:37)

Might the references to "borderlines" and the borderline ward in this film refer, not to Borderline Personality Disorder of contemporary nomenclature, but to the earlier concept of mental illness between neurosis and psychosis in severity, borderline psychosis?