- The incompetence in this hospital is absolutely radiant... I mean, where do you train your nurses, Mrs. Christie, Dachau!?
- Now what in hell am I going to tell this boy Schaefer's parents? That a substitute nurse assassinated him because she couldn't tell the doctors from the patients on the floor?
- This is Dr. Ives. He's in the Nephrology Lab. I was in there a little while ago, and he was suddenly taken ill, and I thought I'd better get him over here right away. He had at that time perhaps an hour to live. Prompt treatment would have saved his life. As a staff doctor, he was seen without preliminaries... His vital signs were taken, an electrocardiogram... which revealed occasional ventricular premature contractions. An intern took his history... and then he was promptly... simply... forgotten to death.
- Edmund Drummond: So at 9:15 this morning I rang for my nurse...
- Dr. Bock: Rang for your nurse?
- Edmund Drummond: To ensure one full hour of uninterrupted privacy.
- Dr. Bock: Good.
- Mrs. Cushing: Dr. Spezio. I think one of your patients in here is dead, Dr. Spezio.
- Dr. Spezio: Why do you say that, Mrs. Cushing?
- Mrs. Cushing: Because he wouldn't give me his Blue Cross number, Dr. Spezio.
- Barbara: I have a thing about middle-aged men.
- Dr. Bock: I admire your candor.
- Barbara: You've been admiring a lot more than that.
- Dr. Bock: You're wasting your time. I've been impotent for years.
- Barbara: Rubbish.
- Dr. Bock: What the hell is wrong with being impotent? Kids are more hung up on sex than the Victorians. I got a son, 23 years old. I threw him out of the house last year. Pietistic little humbug. He preached universal love, and he despised everyone. Had a blanket contempt for the middle class, even its decencies. He detested my mother because she had a petit bourgeois pride in her son, the doctor. I cannot tell you how brutishly he ignored that rather good lady. When she died, he didn't even come to the funeral. He felt the chapel service was an hypocrisy.
He told me his generation didn't live with lies. I said, 'Listen, everybody lives with lies.' I — I grabbed him by his poncho and I dragged him the length of our seven-room, despicably affluent, middle-class apartment, and I flung him — out! I haven't seen him since. You know what he said to me? He's standing there on the landing, you know, on the verge of tears. He shrieked at me: 'You old fink. You can't even get it up anymore.' That was it, you see. That was his real revolution. It wasn't racism, the oppressed poor, or the war in Vietnam. No, the ultimate American societal sickness was a limp dingus. My God. If there is a despised, misunderstood minority in this country, it is us poor, impotent bastards. Well, I'm impotent, and I'm proud of it. Impotence is beautiful, baby! POWER TO THE IMPOTENT! RIGHT ON, BABY! ...You know, when I say impotent, I don't mean merely limp. Disagreeable as it may be for a woman, a man may lust for other things, something a little less transient than an erection. A sense of permanent worth. That's what medicine was to me, my reason for being.
You know, Miss Drummond, when I was 34, I presented a paper before the annual convention of the Society of Clinical Investigation that pioneered the whole goddamn field of immunology. A breakthrough. I'm in all the textbooks. I happen to be an eminent man, Miss Drummond. You know something else, Miss Drummond? I don't give a goddamn. When I say impotent, I mean I've lost even my desire to work. That's a hell of a lot more primal passion than sex. I've lost my reason for being. My purpose. The only thing I ever truly loved. Well, it is all rubbish, isn't it?
I mean, transplants, anti-bodies. We manufacture genes. We can produce birth ecto-genetically. We can practically clone people like carrots, and half the kids in this ghetto haven't even been inoculated for polio! We have established the most enormous, medical entity ever conceived and people are sicker than ever! WE CURE NOTHING! WE HEAL NOTHING! The whole goddamn wretched world is strangulating in front of our eyes. That's what I mean when I say impotent. You don't know what the hell I'm talking about, do you?...I'm tired. I'm very tired, Miss Drummond. And I hurt. And I've got nothing going for me anymore. Can you understand that?...And you also understand that the only admissible matter left is death.
- Barbara: You have a familiar case of morbid menopause. It's hard for me to take your despair seriously, doctor. You obviously enjoy it so much.
- Dr. Bock: Bugger off! That's all I need now is clinical insight. Some cockamamie 25 year-old acidhead is gonna reassure me about the menopause now!
- Barbara: We could really use you down there, you know there's a curiously high incidence of TB. You would be a doctor again, Herb. You would be necessary again. If you love me, I don't see what other choice you have?
- Dr. Bock: What do you mean if I love you? I raped you in a suicidal rage, how do we get to love and children all the sudden?
- Behind the lab coat beats the heart of a man who's been pushed to the edge.
- Madness, Murder and Malpractice.
- Watch them operate!
- I may be crazy, but I think I've operated on the wrong patient.
- George C. Scott - Dr. Herbert "Herb" Bock
- Diana Rigg - Miss Barbara Drummond
- Robert Walden - Dr. Brubaker
- Barnard Hughes - Edmund Drummond (and an uncredited role as Dr. Mallory, the OB/GYN who discovers he's got the wrong patient.)
- Richard A. Dysart - Dr. Welbeck
- Stephen Elliott| - Dr. John Sundstrom
- Andrew Duncan - William "Willie" Mead
- Donald Harron - Dr. Milton Mead
- Nancy Marchand - Mrs. Christie, Head of Nurses
- Jordan Charney - Hitchcock, Hospital Administration
- Roberts Blossom - Guernsey
- Lenny Baker - Dr. Howard Schaefer
- Richard Hamilton| - Dr. Ronald Casey
- Arthur Junaluska - Mr. Blacktree
- Kate Harrington| - Nurse Dunne
- Katherine Helmond - Mrs. Marilyn Mead
- David Hooks - Dr. Joe Einhorn
- Frances Sternhagen - Mrs. Sally Cushing
- Stockard Channing - E.R. Nurse