US, 1992, 100 minutes, Colour.
Kiefer Sutherland, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker, Lea Thompson, John Mahoney, John C.Mc Ginley, Keith David, Kathy Baker, Eli Wallach.
Directed by Howard Deutch.
Article 99 was directed by Howard Deutch, better known for some of the films he made from John Hughes scripts (Some Kind of Wonderful, The Great Outdoors, Pretty in Pink).
This is an uneasy blend between the serious and the comic, a portrait of a veterans hospital, bureaucratic mismanagement, the doctors and staff taking matters into their own hand. While there are serious themes, many of the touches are comic. The film has a very strong cast starring Ray Liotta (in a more sympathetic role than usual), Kiefer Sutherland, Leah Thompson and Kathy Baker. John Mahoney is excellent as the self-centred bureaucrat.
The film would make more impact in the United States with its picture of hospitals, the need for surgery for veterans, the bureaucratic bungles and the disregard of people. It is of less interest to non-American audiences, even though its theme is worthy.
1. A blend of the serious and the comic? Serious issues, comic style, black comedy? For an American audience?
2. The portrait of the veterans hospital, the hospital locations? Musical score?
3. The title and Luthor's explanation to Travis? Veterans, their treatment, disabilities, financial difficulties, bureaucratic regulations? The sequences in the admittance halls and the treatment of the veterans by the staff at the desk?
4. Dr Sturgess and his work, skill in operations, looking after Travis, concealing him in the ward, trying to get the means to do his bypass operation? The clashes with the director, verbal interchanges? The support of the surgical staff? Meeting with Peter, friendship, challenges to him? The midnight raids to get materials? His relationship with Diana, the insane gunman and his treatment, clashes with Diana? Later meetings, the affair? His impersonal style and her confrontation? His being videotaped in the midnight raid, suspension, the decision to leave, with Diana? Peter asking him to come back? The closure of the hospital, the military siege? The operation on Travis, his decisions, decision to end the siege, his wisdom and his victory?
5. Peter Morgan, the ambitious young intern, his hopes, arrival, mayhem, the gunman and the dangers? The treatment by the staff, Nurse White and her despising him? The nurse and her thinking that he was too ambitious? Meeting Sam, the discussions, the decision to help him? The friendship, the discussions, his death - and the burial with his military star? The nurse and her not wanting to have a coffee with him? The director and the request for him to spy on the others? The confrontation with the director after discovering the camera, taking the tape? His participation in the Travis operation, getting Sturgess to come back to the hospital? His being vindicated, the decision to stay, the date with the nurse?
6. The director and his ambitions, his assistant and the money grants for research, the research animals? More money going to research than to the veterans? Politics and Washington? His disregard of Sturgess? The raids, his anger? Confrontations with Sturgess, asking Peter to spy? The final confrontation, the police and their withdrawal, the Inspector- General coming, the confrontation, the operation, the Inspector- General seeing the truth, his being humiliated?
7. Diana, psychology and her work, with the veterans, the gunman, her trying to use psychology and Sturgess pushing her aside? Her disregard for him, their discussions, change, her bluntness in starting the affair? Her personalising the affair when Sturgess refused? His staying at her apartment, the happy reunion?
8. The surgical staff, Sid and his friendship with Sturgess, with the operations, the meetings, the grants and the discussions? The nurse and her support of the patients?
9. The opening of the film with Travis, his wife, his need for an operation, going to the hospital, the bewilderment of the requests, the forms? Meeting Luthor and his explanation? His being hidden in the hospital, almost dying, his wife and her prayer, the successful operation?
10. Luthor, his contacts with the media, the gunman and getting the coverage, the final confrontation, his hard line, getting the black veterans with him? The staff? Sturgess arguing him out of a hard line? His explanation of Article 99 to Travis?
11. Sam, the veteran, his memories, the bonds with Peter, discussion of his memories, his death? Funeral?
12. Nurse White, her bitterness, the other members of the staff, concealing Travis? The antagonism, the final confrontation with Peter, her support of him, her joining the staff outside the hospital?
13. The Inspector- General, the stance he took, discovering the truth? His humiliation of the director?
14. Important social issues, management, hospitals, veterans and their benefits? The humane treatment of patients?