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Film Therapists (2)


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 when 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.



The revenge of the Hollywood therapist

LOOKING FOR A GOOD THERAPIST? AVOID HOLLYWOOD. IF RECENT FLICKS LIKE Basic Instinct, Final Analysis, The Prince Of Tides,and The Silence Of The Lambs are anything to go by, Hollywood shrinks are either sex-crazed narcissists with the serious hots for the patient's sister, or major league nutters prepared to shoot,

stab, or even eat their patients if they give out the wrong answers.

Surprising? Not really. As long as there have been movies, there have been movies about psychiatrists - more than 300 in fact - with filmmakers just unable to resist those good old plot twists such as amnesia, mad twins and mind control. From the weirdo-analyst in silent screen classic The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1919), to the helpful doc who pops up at the end of Psycho (1960to explain quite calmly just why it is that Norman Bates has kept his dead mother in the basement, there’s just no stopping them.


With child psychologist John Lihgow continuing he psycho-fruitcake tradition in Brian De Palma’s Raising Cain, released next month, Tom Soter reclines on the psychiatrist couch to provide the Empire guide to therapists in the movies…



IN THE WHITE COAT Jeanne Tripplehorn

FIRST SESSION  Dr. Jeanne ends the session with patient Michael Douglas by rather unethically informing him, “I still miss you.”         

SHRINK RAP  “Fuck off, Martin!” she yells as “Shooter” squares up for some barroom fisticuffs with our Marty.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  “I’m sorry, I don’t usually act like that,” she tells Douglas, pulling herself together after beating him up.

STRUCK OFF  “You’ve never been like this before/ Why?” she asks Douglas nakes violent love to her. “You’re the shrink,” he retorts. “You tell me.”




FIRST SESSION   Dr. Dick is a loner absorbed by work, until, that is, he meets a patient’s steamy sister who’s eager to get her kit off.

SHRINK RAP “People stop surprising you.”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  Dr. Gere wears Armani suits and sleeps with accused murderers. Oh dear.

STRUCK OFF  The trusting therapist has spent too much time preening himself in front of the mirror to have seen Double Indemnity or Body Heat.



IN THE WHITE COAT Barbra Streisand

FIRST SESSION Dr. Babs can help others, but not herself: her marriage is sterile, her son is uncommunicative, and her husband is an arrogant shit.

SHRINK RAP  “Face the pain. Let I go…”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD Babs counsels Nick Nolte, but instead of charging the usual hourly rate, she pays him to teach her weedy son football.

STRUCK OFF  She miraculously cures her suicidal patient by bedding the patient’s brother…



IN THE WHITE COAT  Richard Dreyfuss

FIRST SESSION  Dr. Dreyfuss is a neurotic narcissist who cares more about his vacation than the problems of the marble-free Bill Murray.

SHRINK RAP  “I don’t get angry,” he seethes. “I don’t get upset. I don’t see paients on vacation,”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  This doctor talks with his kids via hand-puppets.

STRUCK OFF  The good nut-doctor attempts to strangle and then dynamite his patient, ending up in an asylum himself…



IN THE WHITE COAT  Anthony Hopkins

FIRST SESSION Mess up on your word associations and this doctor and it’s fava beans and Chianti time…

SHRINK RAP  “All good things to those who wait.”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD “You want the lambs to stop screaming, don’t you, Clarice?”

STRUCK OFF  Where do you start?



IN THE WHITE COAT  Lindsay Crouse

FIRST SESSION  The Good Doctor, pop psychologist, and bestselling author, is an obsessive personality, sexually drawn to con man Joe Mantega.

SHRINK RAP  “You’re like a dog coming back to its own vomit,” she is rather unflatteringly informed by the object of her desire.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  The Doc is so busy taking notes during her sessions that she misses the point of what people are saying.

STRUCK OFF  She shoots her lover, relieving her guilt complex. By managing to evade capture, she also has time to write another bestseller. Hurrah!



IN THE WHITE COAT  Donald Pleasence

FIRST SESSION  Dr. Don has a noble purpose in his heart: confine loony Michael Meyers or blow him away with a .44 Magnum

SHRINK RAP  “I spent eight years trying to reach Meyers and then another seven trying to keep him locked up. He is purely and simply Evil.”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  Pleasence has a laudable moralistic fervor and a dedication to the job. He does, however, seem to have, er, no other patients.

STRUCK OFF  Shooting your patient is an unusual form of therapy.




IN THE WHITE COAT  Michael Caine

FIRST SESSION  Caine is calm, cockney, dedicated, and constantly refers to a wife no one ever sees – a sure sign he’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

SHRINK RAP  “There are all knds of ways to get killed in this city if you’re looking for it.”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  His ethics are unusual for a Hollywood shrink, refusing he advances of a patient who strips to her undies. His reason: “I’m a doctor.”

STRUCK OFF  Slashing your patient’s throat is an unusual from of therapy.



IN THE WHITE COAT  Ingrid Bergman

FIRST SESSION  Frigid therapist Bergman wears sensible glasses and grey suits and falls in love with amnesiac murder suspect Gregory Peck.

SHRINK RAP  “Darling, you mustn’t be frightened,” she reassures him. “We’re making progress.”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  “I could not fall in love with a murderer,” she explains. Conclusive proof that her amnesiac, constantly fainting patient is, indeed, innocent.”

STRUCK OFF She solves a murder, causes a suicide, and marries her patient.




FIRST SESSION  Hoofer-turned-therapist Dr. Fred talks of his patients scornfully as silly women who have nothing better to do with their money.

SHRINK RAP  “I used to be colour blind (until I met you)” ­– sung to patient in her dream.

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR CHILDHOOD  This quack can hypnotise patients into loving, hating, or shooting him.

STRUCK OFF  Therapist marries patient after singing, “Change Partners” and punching her in the eye.

EMPIRE, December 1992