You are hereMagazines 1990-1999 / Film Therapists (1)
Film Therapists (1)
NOTE: Editors often rewrite stories, and I occasionally found myself rewritten. Sometimes, it was necessary - I might not have hit the mark – other times it was silly (adding the word "living" to the phrase "everyone in the world knows James Bond"), and then there were instances where it was done to catch a different idiom. That was usually the case with EMPIRE, a British film magazine that printed my work in the early 1990s. I recently came across an original draft of a story that was rewritten by EMPIRE (adding British slang). Here's a chance to see what was done and to choose whose prose you prefer. Tom Soter, July 3, 2011.
PSYCHIATRY AND FILM: A GUIDE
By TOM SOTER from EMPIRE, 1993 (Original version)
Looking for a good shrink? Don't go to Hollywood. If recent flicks like Basic Instinct, Final Analysis, The Prince of Tides, and The Silence of the Lambs are any clue, most screenwriters must go to therapists who are either sex-crazed narcissists or hot-headed loony-toons ready to shoot, stab, or eat them if they don't give out the right answers. Surprising? Not really. As long as there have been movies, there have been movies about psychiatrists. Good, bad, or indifferent shrinks, audiences have seen them all, from the bonkers analyst in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) to the seductive New Yawker with the six-inch fingernails in The Prince of Tides (1991). "There's not much subtlety from a psychiatric point of view," Dr. Harvey R. Greenberg, a New York psychiatrist told the New York Times when they asked him about Streisand's portrayal of Dr. Susan Lowenstein in Prince. "Her techniques are largely reassurance and ventilation. This movie rests largely on the dramatic idea that unburdening yourself about the past will cure everything from neurotic alienation to schizophrenia." Well, maybe, but we think it all depends on what shrink you rap with. Since 1906, when Dr. Dippy's Sanitarium offered a lighthearted view of a madhouse, there have been over 300 movies with analysts of some sort or another, and sometimes it's hard to tell the doctor without a scorecard. Tom Soter provides some help with an Empire guide to movie therapists you may (or may not) want to avoid...
BASIC INSTINCT (1992) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Love Thy Patient FIRST SESSION Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn), sex kitten as shrink, ends a session with her patient (Michael Douglas), by saying, "I still miss you." SHRINK RAP "Fuck off, Martin." GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE After violently attacking her patient because he has sexually insulted her, she pulls herself together and says, "I'm sorry. I don't usually act like that." SEPARATION ANXIETY - NOT After the patient violently makes love to the therapist, she says, "You've never been like that before; why?" To which he replies, "You're the shrink. You tell me." She throws him out.
FINAL ANALYSIS(1992) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Aren't I Handsome? FIRST SESSION Dr. Isaac Barr (Richard Gere) is aloof loner absorbed by work – except when he meets steamy potential patients with long blond hair, sensuous mouths, and voluptuous figures (Kim Basinger) SHRINK RAP "People stop surprising you." GET OFF THE COUCH – OR ELSE Dr. Barr wears Armani suits and sleeps with accused murderers. SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT The therapist never saw Double Indemnity or Body Heat, and is much top passionate and trusting.
PRINCE OF TIDES (1991) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Long Fingernails Help Get to the Point FIRST SESSION Dr. Lowenstein (Barbra Streisand) can help others, but is unable to help herself: her marriage is sterile, her son is bitter and uncommunicative, and her husband likes to insult jocks SHRINK RAP "Face the pain." (Subtext: sleep with me.) GET OFF THE COUCH – OR ELSE She holds sessions with her patient's brother, but never seems to charge him – and then pays him to teach her nerdy son football. SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT She apparently cures her suicidal patient by sleeping with the patient's brother (Nick Nolte).
WHAT ABOUT BOB? (1991) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY I Me Mine FIRST SESSION Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) is a neurotic narcissist who knows a lot of theory but seems to cares more about his Vacation, reputation, and fees than the problems of his seriously disturbed, yet charming patient (Bill Murray), who later becomes a therapist himself. SHRINK RAP "I don't get angry," he says seething with anger. "I don't get upset. I don't see patients on vacation." GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE The doctor talks to his children via hand©puppets. SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT The shrink attempts to strangle and then dynamite his patient, and ends up in an asylum. His patient becomes a therapist.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1990) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY To know me is to eat you FIRST SESSION Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lektor (Anthony Hopkins) is every analysand's nightmare doctor, able to destroy you with a word, to enter your mind, even to eat you if you let down your guard. SHRINK RAP "All good things to those who wait." GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE The therapist rarely moves except when hungry; likes to stand under spotlights and stare directly into the camera. SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT Dr. Lektor is on the loose at the end. Moral: Evil is still out there, waiting to strike, and therapy is a constant, ongoing battle.
HOUSE OF GAMES (1987) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY It takes one to know one. FIRST SESSION Dr. Margaret (Lindsay Crouse), pop psychologist, the author of a best©selling book on compulsive behavior, is herself a compulsive thief and obsessive personality, sexually drawn to a con man and thief (Montegna) who threatens the life of her patient and cons her out of thousands. SHRINK RAP Thief sums up therapist's strongest personality trait: "You're like a dog coming back to its own vomit." GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE Doctor has close-cropped, mannish haircut and is so busy taking notes during her sessions that she often misses the point of what people are saying. SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT She shoots her lover, which seems to relieve her guilt complex. By managing to evade capture, she also has time to write another best©selling book.
THE HOWLING(1981) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Hairy Problems Must Be Confronted FIRST SESSION A smooth-talking werewolf shrink (Patrick Macnee), argues that the modern werewolf must repress his base instincts (and fangs) if he is to survive in modern times SHRINK RAP "We must never deny the animal within us." (He should know.) GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE One of the therapist's patients is horror movie icon John Carradine, who says, "You can't tame what's meant to be wild, doc. It ain't natural." SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT Macnee says, "Times have changed. We can fit in," moments before the heroes trap all the werewolves in a burning barn
HALLOWEEN (1980) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Speak manically and carry a big gun FIRST SESSION Dr. Sam Loomis (named after the dumbell hero of Psycho) has a glint in his eye and a noble purpose in his heart: confine psycho Michael Meyers or blow him away with a .44 magnum. SHRINK RAP "I spent eight years trying to reach [murderer Michael Myers] and then another seven trying to keep him locked up...[He is] purely and simply Evil." GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE Loomis has a moralistic fervor and a dedication to the job that are laudable; he gets to the point quickly; however, he seems to have no other patients and difficulty with small talk SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT He shoots his patient – but is unable to completely separate (see Halloween II and V)
DRESSED TO KILL (1980) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Norman Bates School of Double Identity FIRST SESSION Dr. Elliott (Michael Caine) is calm, cockney, dedicated, and keeps referring to a wife no one ever sees. He also "keeps his nights open for returning phone calls or in case a patient needs extra help" – a sure sign that he's nutty. SHRINK RAP Elliott's insight: "There are all kinds of ways to get killed in this city if you're looking for it." GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE He has professional ethics unusual for a Hollywood therapist, refusing to make love with a patient who strips to her undies in front of him. His reason: "I'm a doctor." SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT He kills his patient.
BEDTIME FOR BONZO (1951) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY You Make a Monkey Out of Me, I'll Become President FIRST SESSION Psychology professor (Ronald Reagan) attempts to prove a monkey named Bonzo can act like a man (which he proved years later in another context) SHRINK RAP "I'm trying inverted psychological domination." GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE Professor Ron tries to explain his housekeeper's affection for Bonzo: "It's a sublimation of transferrance." SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT The professor marries his housekeeper and takes the monkey with them on their honeymoon.
SPELLBOUND (1945) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Love Will Keep You Out of Jail FIRST SESSION Frigid therapist (Ingrid Bergman), who wears glasses and grey suits, proves she is all-woman when she falls in love with an amnesiac murder suspect who looks like Gregory Peck. SHRINK RAP Therapist to her patient: "Darling, you musn't be frightened. We're making progress. GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE The shrink explains why her amnesiac, constantly fainting patient is innocent: "I could not fall in love with a murderer." SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT She solves a murder, causes a suicide, and marries her patient, even after she discovers he can't ski very well.
THE LOCKET (1945) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY Marry Your Patient Before You Learn Too Much About Her FIRST SESSION Shrink (Brian Aherene) marries mysterious woman (Laraine Day) who turns out to be a kleptomanic widow who marries men and then drives them to insanity and/or death SHRINK RAP Therapist offers piercing advice: "Doubt is a symptom. When we are prone to doubt, it indicates that we are unsure of ourselves" GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE Therapist is prone to sappy speeches: "Nancy never got her locket as a child and because it meant so much to her, she paid a terrible price. But bracelets are only symbols. It was love she needed. It's love she needs now. Pity won't help." SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT Therapist ends up in an insane asylum when he learns too much about his wife.
CAREFREE (1938) THERAPIST'S PHILOSOPHY I Won't Dance (Don't Ask Me) FIRST SESSION Hoofer-turned-therapist Fred Astaire (convinced by analysis that he should give up dancing) talks of his patients scornfully as silly women who have nothing better to do with their money then spend it on sessions with Mr. Foggy Day in London Town SHRINK RAP "I used to be color blind (until I met you)" – sung to patient in her dream GET OFF THE COUCH - OR ELSE Doctor can hypnotize patient into loving, hating, or shooting him SEPARATION ANXIETY – NOT Therapist marries his patient, after punching her in the eye and singing, "Change Partners."