There is a one-night-only screening of this film
on Tuesday 11/14 in theaters across the country.
- Paul Michael Angell
- Run Time
- 1 hour and 36 minutes
- Not Rated
VP Content Ratings
- Sex & Nudity
- Star Rating
Happy are those who consider the poor;
the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;
they are called happy in the land.
You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed;
in their illness you heal all their infirmities.
In director Paul Michael Angell’s documentary, we discover a man whose concern for health care has benefitted hundreds of thousands of people, even though he was not a doctor. Stan Brock, born in England in 1936, had many vocations. With few ties with his father, he became at the age of 17 a cowboy and then ranch manager thousands of miles from home in British Guyana. A lover of wildlife, he hosted Marlin Perkin’s staff who visited him on the ranch, eventually leading to his becoming Perkin’s co-host on the weekly Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom.” From there he went on to star in three unmemorable films, and at last in 1985, concerned with the lack of access to health for so many millions of people, he sold everything and founded RAM— Remote Area Medical.
His dedication to RAM cost him his marriage and led him to live a life devoid of any private or romantic aspect. His lifestyle was that of an ascetic monk. He saved money by living in the dilapidated former school building that served as RAM’s headquarters. Compared to his crude sleeping arrangements, a prison cell would be considered luxurious. His concern for healthcare began with the plight of the poor people living on the ranch where he had toiled when he was 17. It soon broadened when he realized that millions of Americans also lacked health care. Settling in Tennessee, he was able to rent an abandoned schoolhouse for his headquarters at $1 a year. The funds he raised went into purchasing medical supplies and equipment—such as the tractor trailers used in the setting up of mobile clinics around the country. He was even able to purchase an airplane—he himself had become a pilot many years earlier. He took no salary—only his employees such as the loyal woman who handled phone calls and other communications at his headquarters were paid. His pop-up health clinics were made possible by the thousands of volunteers whom he won to his cause by his zealous concern.
We travel with Stan to various places around our country as he becomes more and more concerned that so many millions of Americans lack access to health care. At each of his pop-up clinics his volunteers make possible medical and dental care that so many Americans, despite living in the world’s wealthiest country, are denied. There are many sequences in which Stan talks with the needy patients, affirming his care for them and honoring their humanity. RAM receives no government aid, subsisting on private donations, as well as its volunteers. He overcame many obstacles, one of them being medical association-backed laws that barred medical staff from coming in from other states as volunteers. Through his testimonials before legislative committees, he was able to get rid of such restrictions in a dozen states, including California.
When he died in 2018 from complications of a stroke, he left a rich legacy that still benefits thousands of needy people here and overseas. According to Wikipedia, Stan’s RAM had held its 900th clinic at the time of his death, and by a year later its 1000th. Quit a legacy for a man with no medical credentials—just a heart burning with urgent concern for “the least of these, my brethren (and sisters).” In the year just before his death Stan hosted a clinic in Wise, Virginia in which over 1000 volunteers treated 2300 men and women. (One of the movie’s most poignant moments is Stan sorrowfully telling about his speaking with an ailing couple who arrived at his clinic just after the last trailer had pulled away on its journey back to Tennessee.)
You can discover more about Remote Area Medical, including how you can donate to or volunteer for your service, by clicking here. Paul Michael Angell’s documentary is an inspiring tribute to a man who left this world far richer because of his compassionate 34-year-long dedication.
This review will be in the Nov. issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.