6.0/10
132
4 user 7 critic

The National Health (1973)

PG | | Comedy | 10 August 1979 (USA)
Trailer
3:06 | Trailer
The British National Health System is skewered in this comedy set in a rundown London hospital. The hospital is filled with wacky staff members and patients, and the film strives to get all... See full summary »

Director:

Jack Gold

Writers:

Peter Nichols (play), Peter Nichols (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

The Reckoning (1970)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Michael Marler, a successful business man in London, is about to make his way to the top. The death of his father brings him - after five years - back to his hometown Liverpool, where he is... See full summary »

Director: Jack Gold
Stars: Nicol Williamson, Ann Bell, Lilita De Barros
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Peter Carter meets official resistance when he finds his 9 year old daughter has been the victim of the pedophile patriarch of the town's most powerful family.

Director: Cyril Frankel
Stars: Gwen Watford, Patrick Allen, Felix Aylmer
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A couple uses extremely black comedy to survive taking care of a daughter who is nearly completely brain dead. They take turns doing the daughter's voice and stare into the eyes of death ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Medak
Stars: Alan Bates, Janet Suzman, Peter Bowles
Certificate: GP Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

While recovering in Venice, sickly Composer Gustav von Aschenbach becomes dangerously fixated with teenager Tadzio.

Director: Luchino Visconti
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Romolo Valli, Mark Burns
'Doc' (1971)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Doc Holliday, the cold-blooded sharp-shooter, reunites with his old friend, Marshall Wyatt Earp, to take down the Clanton gang in the dusty town of Tombstone, in Arizona.

Director: Frank Perry
Stars: Stacy Keach, Faye Dunaway, Harris Yulin
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A married writer has an affair with his secretary.

Director: Albert Finney
Stars: Albert Finney, Colin Blakely, Billie Whitelaw
Town on Trial (1957)
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

At a local tennis club in a posh London suburb, an attractive but flirty young woman is murdered, prompting a Scotland Yard investigation.

Director: John Guillermin
Stars: John Mills, Charles Coburn, Barbara Bates
Western (2017)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

German construction workers building a dam near a Bulgarian village interact with the locals, and soon the troubles arise both with the locals and among themselves.

Director: Valeska Grisebach
Stars: Meinhard Neumann, Reinhardt Wetrek, Syuleyman Alilov Letifov
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

During the Cold War, the British and Soviet Intelligence services attempt to out-fox one another using the homesick double-Agent Krasnevin a.k.a. Alexander Eberlin (Laurence Harvey) as a pawn in the complex spy-game.

Directors: Anthony Mann, Laurence Harvey
Stars: Laurence Harvey, Tom Courtenay, Mia Farrow
Action | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

Agadez is a lonely French outpost baking under the desert sun and commanded by the cruel and oppressive Captain Savatt (C. Henry Gordon). To it comes, at his own request, Legionnaire Jim ... See full summary »

Director: D. Ross Lederman
Stars: Paul Kelly, C. Henry Gordon, Lorna Gray
Detour (1945)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Chance events trap hitch-hiker Al Roberts in a tightening net of film noir trouble.

Director: Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake
Comedy | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A group of young British soldiers billeted in Singapore of the year 1950 dreaming about winning the love of the daughter of the Regimental Sergeant Major.

Director: John Dexter
Stars: Lynn Redgrave, Hywel Bennett, Nigel Davenport
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lynn Redgrave ... Nurse Sweet / Nurse Betty Martin
Colin Blakely ... Edward Loach
Eleanor Bron ... Sister McFee / Sister Mary MacArthur
Donald Sinden ... Mr. Carr / Senior Surgeon Boyd
Jim Dale ... Barnet / Dr. Neil Boyd
Bob Hoskins ... Foster
David Hutcheson David Hutcheson ... Mackie
Mervyn Johns ... Rees
Bert Palmer Bert Palmer ... Flegg
Clive Swift ... Ash
Gillian Barge ... Dr. Bird
George 'Calypso' Browne George 'Calypso' Browne ... The Chaplain (as George Browne)
Patience Collier ... The Lady Visitor
Jumoke Debayo Jumoke Debayo ... Nurse Lake
Robert Gillespie ... Tyler
Edit

Storyline

The British National Health System is skewered in this comedy set in a rundown London hospital. The hospital is filled with wacky staff members and patients, and the film strives to get all it can from their humorous escapades. The movie also includes a satire-within-a-satire, with "Nurse Norton's Affair" providing a send-up of TV hospital soap operas. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on play | See All (1) »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 August 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The National Health, or Nurse Norton's Affair See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Virgin Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Sheila Scott Wilkinson and Neville Aurelius both receive "introducing" credits See more »

Quotes

Mackie: But what can you do? You can't cure loneliness, ugliness, boredom. The best you can hope for is that they'll be lonely on clean sheets, ugly on tapioca pudding and to hell with the quality of life.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Music Remembered and Conducted by Carl Davis See more »

Soundtracks

Serenade for Strings
(uncredited)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
'There should be clinics where one could get one's death like a library book' - interesting, flawed 'film'
3 June 2010 | by HenryHextonEsqSee all my reviews

"The National Health" falls into the trap of so many British films: that of staying faithful to its previous incarnation in another medium. This is a stage-play only nominally opened up, made cinematic. I suppose this makes a marginally refreshing change from 1970s British cinema's more common ploy of barely adapting television sitcoms to the big-screen. Marginally.

It attempts allegory through the use of irony; counter-posing scenes of idealised US television depictions of hospital life with the 'reality' of NHS life in grimmer 1970s Britain. The film certainly captures some of the loss of faith in the Welfare State that was occurring, and eventually led to the rise of Margaret Thatcher and the 'New Right', who looked to reform state services. It should be noted, however, that the NHS was not privatised by Thatcher, and remains, broadly speaking, a public health provider with care free at the point of use (despite the experience of greater marketisation that staff have had, behind the scenes).

It seems curious that this 1973 film barely expresses any faith in public health provision, considering that in 2010 the NHS remains a loved British institution. Nichols clearly saw himself as 'saying the unsay-able' at a time when social democratic politics seemed thoroughly embedded in almost all aspects of British life. The script gestures towards this with one hospital ward named after Sir Stafford Cripps, one of the Labour politicians responsible for the post-WW2 welfare settlement. Nichols sets out to critique socialism, basically saying that socialism had not truly arrived in Britain, with lazy staff and bickering patients. The system is seen as part of the usual British 'muddling along', rather than fulfilling the humanist efficiency foreseen by NHS founder, Aneurin Bevan.

There are jibes at the coarsening of British life: 'We want to rise, not sink in the bog', Clive Swift lamenting the reduction of English, 'the most beautiful language in the world' into 'a string of obscenities' by 'most people' you meet. There is the sense of a Britain having lost its old certainties; the 'simple dignity' and stoicism of WW2, with people now expecting a lot more from life and the reality often falling short. This is stated - with sledgehammer subtlety - through the idealised US hospital scenes. Perhaps making the point that media images and advertising have given people false idols to worship; antiseptic product and the unobtainable romance of Mills and Boon.

Hollywood did hospital satire rather better two years previously with "The Hospital", a coruscating drama that captures the conflicted nature of public service in modern consumer society rather more bitingly. That film is often just as verbose, but has a magnetic central performance from George C. Scott to anchor the whole thing. This has a fine ensemble, but a lack of dramatic tension or direction. It tends to meander, with its scatter-shot potshots at the mores of Blighty.

The acting is, naturally, faultless; from the fine character actor Clive Swift, to a well-cast Jim Dale - making a conscious link to the "Carry Ons" - to Bob Hoskins (playing the socialist Foster, the one character unreservedly defending 1970s Britain) and to Colin Blakely as the laconic, archetypal gloomy Loach. Oh, and the presence of the striking, mellifluous Eleanor Bron is recommendation enough for any film.

This film clearly has a lot to say about the state of the nation, but, in contrast to that other 1973 film "O Lucky Man!" it does not work as cinema and ironically comes across as much more long-winded than Anderson's flawed masterpiece, despite being about half its length.


5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 4 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed