Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Immoral Beloved Research, The Bridgewater State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, Banned Documentary Titicut Follies and a little Pixies

In Immoral Beloved, the prison most mentioned is the Brigewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. As much as the name alone evokes a certain vision, it doesn't come close to what The Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane was at the time. 

In Immoral Beloved, two of my characters, Alexander Battle and Bobby Allen were remanded to Bridgewater and in truth, Bridgewater was where most of the "problem" cases were remanded, but they were often not "insane." I went into detail about the abhorrent conditions at Bridgewater because Bridgewater was an abhorrent place. The Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo was a guest at Bridgewater and even he tried to escape it was so bad. 

So horrid was this prison, in 1967 a documentarian by the name of Frederick Wiseman filmed a movie at Bridgewater during their annual talent show called Titicut Follies (Tititcut is not some obscure dirty word, it is a Wapanoag word for the Taunton River which runs near Bridgewater and what the guards at Bridgewater called the talent show).

In the Titicut Follies documentary, Frederick Wiseman and John Marshall, who filmed the movie, caught the forced tube feedings, degrading and bullying treatment of the inmates by the guards, filthy conditions and mind-boggling psychiatric sessions between the staff psychiatrist and the inmates. Titicut Follies was only in release for a short time before it was pulled from distribution by Massachusetts Superior Court judge Harry Kalus citing privacy concerns for the inmates even though Wiseman secured all the necessary releases. Frederick Wiseman tried to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1969, but they refused to hear his case. The film remained banned until 1991 when the film was then released to the general public.

I could not find a copy of the documentary anywhere even though it was released for home distribution in 2007. A friend of mine in publishing was able to secure a copy for me and I've watched it several times. It is a truly disturbing film and I frequently watch disturbing movies and documentaries, but this one was very unnerving....no spoilers, just be warned.

If you want to read more about Titicut Follies, check out the Wikipedia page and external links for the film:

Titicut Follies Wikipedia Page

If you want to read more about the Bridgewater State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, check out the Wikipedia page.

Bridgewater State Hospital For The Criminally Insane Wikipedia Page

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