The Caretakers, released in the UK as Borderlines, is a 1963 American drama film starring Robert Stack, Polly Bergen, Diane McBain, Joan Crawford and Janis Paige in a story about a mental hospital.
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). The on-screen text in opening credits states: "Dedicated to the caretakers whose research and sacrifice discover truth. For Beba, Alice, Paul, Cathy, Laurie, Pearl, Margaret, Warren, Arthur".
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.Virginia Munshin as Ruth
Ellen Corby as Irene
Barbara Barrie as Edna
Herbert Marshall as Dr. Harrington
Sharon Hugueny as Connie
Robert Vaughn as Jim Melford
Susan Oliver asCathy
Ana St. Clair as Ana
Constance Ford as Nurse Bracken
Van Williams as Dr. Larry Denning
Diane McBain as Alison
Janis Paige as Marion
Joan Crawford as Lucretia Terry
Polly Bergen as Lorna Melford
Robert Stack as Dr. Donovan MacLeod
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.
Crawford was on the board of directors of PepsiCo and Pepsi-Cola product placements include a scene at the hospital picnic, which features a wagon dispensing the soft drink.
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.