Caretakers, The (1963): Joan Crawford as Nurse in Oscar Nominated Tale of Mental Institution

Set in a mental institution, The Caretakers is a melodrama, starring Joan Crawford in one of her last features.

It was her first film after the smash hit horror, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? opposite Bette Davis, directed by Robert Aldrich.

Delighting her core fans, Crawford plays a hard-bitten head nurse named Lucretia Terry, who’s strongly opposing the progressive theories of new doctor Dr. Donovan MacLeod (Robert Stack).

The most mentally disturbed individual in the place is Lorna Melford (Polly Bergen), who screams rather than speaks.  But thanks to the doctor’s compassionate treatment, Lorna succeeds in preventing fellow inmate Barbara Barrie from burning down the institution.

Excessive and campy, the flick contains the obligatory shock-treatment scene.

The supporting cast includes Herbert Marshall, Robert Vaughn, Janis Paige and Diane McBain.

This B-level flick benefits from the sharp imagery of Lucien Ballard, who shot some of Sam Peckinpah’s best films, “Ride the High Country” and “The Wild Bunch.”

Oscar Nominations: 1

Cinematography: Lucien Ballard

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was James Wong Howe for “Hud.”



Running time: 97 Minutes.

Directed by Hall Bartlett

Screenplay: Henry F. Greenberg, Hall Bartlett

DVD: May 28, 1996