Newest Reviews
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
Truth, The
Good Die Young, The
Old Guard, The
Disappearance at Clifton Hill
Sullivans, The
Love in the Afternoon
Black Water: Abyss
Wild Blue Yonder, The
All Hail the Popcorn King
Muriel, or the Time of Return
Great Locomotive Chase, The
American Anthem
Lion and the Horse, The
War of the Wizards
Doctor Faustus
Spite Marriage
Mask, The
Letter to Jane
Quick Millions
Dream Demon
Max Havelaar
Glastonbury Fayre
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Shoot Out
Da 5 Bloods
Kung Fu Monster
Secret Agent Super Dragon
Saint Frances
Boiling Point
Golden Stallion, The
Dragon Force
Newest Articles
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
I Can See for Miles: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes on Blu-ray
Too Much Pressure: The Family Way on Blu-ray
The Alan Key: Alan Klein and What a Crazy World on Blu-ray
A Japanese Ghost Story: Kwaidan on Blu-ray
The Zu Gang: Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain on Blu-ray
Reality TV: The Year of the Sex Olympics on DVD
The Young and the Damned: They Live By Night on Blu-ray
Mind How You Go: The Best of COI on Blu-ray
Der Kommissar's in Town: Babylon Berlin Series 3 on DVD
  National Health, The Get Well Soon
Year: 1973
Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Lynn Redgrave, Colin Blakely, Eleanor Bron, Donald Sinden, Jim Dale, Sheila Scott-Wilkenson, Neville Aurelius, Bob Hoskins, David Hutcheson, Clive Swift, Mervyn Johns, Gillian Barge, George Browne, Patience Collier, Robert Gillespie, John Hamill
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A drunken man (Colin Blakely) is taken into this London hospital without any idea of who he is, but obviously needing treatment for alcoholism. The ward he ends up in is populated by a selection of other gentlemen, including the one who has just been discharged, thus freeing a bed for the mystery chap. This patient making an exit is young motorbike enthusiast Kenneth (John Hamill), a likely lad who has a quip for them all and an unwanted advance on Nurse Sweet (Lynn Redgrave), and they joke if he continues to ride the way he does he'll be back soon enough...

You'll have to watch the film to find out if that prediction comes true, but in the meantime you would be treated to a pitch black comedy about the state of the British nation as screenwriter Peter Nichols, here adapting his own play, saw it. The device of taking a small location and rendering it a microcosm of society was a common one for theatre, and television welcomed it as well, but most audiences expected movies to be more opened out and, well, cinematic if that doesn't sound too obvious, which might have been why in spite of glowing reviews the film version of The National Health did not receive the same reception as its theatrical equivalent.

With that in mind, that you were watching one of those filmed plays, you might have thought a trip to the nearest stage to witness the thespians do their thing might be preferable, especially as the play was still running when the screen variation was made, but short of a revival, the best way to watch Nichols' work was to see this production, which may have had a lukewarm reaction among audiences of the day, but regarded now can deliver a clutch of truly excellent performances and some acid observations still holding true for the Britain of today. The National Health Service remains beleaguered in the twenty-first century, mainly because the population insists on getting ill.

Although the idea that the service is a bottomless money pit into which successive governments can throw any amount of billions with no headway apparent was at the heart of this, Nichols only had one character, Foster (Bob Hoskins), come right out and say he thought it was a vital part of a socialised Britain. The other patients merely accept it, or actively criticise it, with the elderly Mackie (David Hutcheson) railing against being made to stay alive for as long as possible when he would rather die, and not only that but rather see millions of others die too since they are nothing but a burden on the country who serve no real purpose, with solely sentimentality fuelling the drive to keep us all living as long as possible.

Whether those were the beliefs of Nichols or not was unclear as Mackie does spiral off his arguments into misanthropy and racism, but then plenty of the characters here are revealed to have unpleasant sides, be they ex-teacher Ash (Clive Swift) who has an unhealthy interest in young boys, or the casual prejudices brought out in everyday conversation with the others. This is presented as real life in all its grimness, as opposed to the airy-fairy fantasy that people would prefer to see life as, here played out as a TV soap opera with the staff of the hospital as their more glamorous equivalents, all very ironic. Many noted among some excellent acting it was Jim Dale who unexpectedly scooped the honours, as Barnet the orderly who always has a joke which masks his loathing of his job and the patients; his gallows humour is both clear-eyed and sobering, while still managing to make you laugh. If there was a flaw, it was that for all its criticism of medical care as not fit for purpose, it didn't point out the alternative was even worse, but this was bracing, curiously sympathetic satire whichever way you looked at it. Music by Carl Davis.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1856 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Graeme Clark
  Lee Fiveash
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: