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The Caretakers

The Caretakers(1963)

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Following the death of her small son in an automobile accident, Lorna Melford suffers a nervous collapse and is confined in a mental institution. Despite her homicidal tendencies, Dr. Donovan MacLeod decides that Lorna is a "borderline case" and places her in a group therapy ward where the patients are given considerable freedom. The group includes also the nymphomaniac Marion; Connie, who hears imaginary voices; Anna, who saw her parents killed in wartime; senile Irene; and Edna, mute and a pyromaniac. Lucretia Terry, the hospital's head nurse, who advocates the use of force in handling the patients, strongly opposes MacLeod's methods. He is almost discredited when Marion steals some alcohol and stages a wild party that ends in brawling and fighting. Lucretia brings charges against him and tries to have him replaced, but the hospital's board of directors gives him a little more time to justify his theories. The crucial moment arrives when Edna, with a torch she has made, attempts to set fire to the group therapy ward. The strong-arm methods of Lucretia's nurses fail to subdue the girl, but Lorna soothingly induces Edna to give up her torch and to speak the first word she has uttered in years. Lorna's apparent cure prompts the hospital board to grant MacLeod permission to open a day clinic for borderline cases.