The Carey Treatment (1972)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: A Pathologist solves mystery.

Based on an early Michael Crichton novel, the story centers around Dr. Peter Carey (James Coburn), who starts a new job as a pathologist at a local Boston hospital and soon finds himself embroiled in a mystery when his good friend Dr. David Tao (James Hong) gets accused of performing an illegal abortion on the daughter of the hospital’s chief surgeon (Dan O’Herlihy), which later kills her. Carey is not convinced that his friend performed the procedure and sets out to prove his innocence when the police are of no help.

This film was noted for its behind-the-scenes turmoil including accusations from director Blake Edwards that he was belittled by the film’s producer William Belasco in front of the crew and told that he would never work in Hollywood again and afterwards having the film edited without his permission. Edwards later sued and his experiences working on this project became the basis for his 1980’s film S.O.B., which savagely satirized the movie making business and the people who ran it.

The plot isn’t bad and attempts are made to give the viewer an authentic feel of the medical profession. One of the better moments is when the doctors perform an autopsy on the victim although I wished they would’ve shown more of the actual corpse on the examining table instead of cutting away from it in an attempt to be ‘tasteful’ as I felt the procedure and what the men discussed during it to be genuinely educational.

Having a hip doctor suddenly turn into an amateur sleuth is the film’s biggest drawback. Coburn plays the part well, but a guy who’s never investigated a case before wouldn’t be so seasoned with the way he handles suspects and tackles clues. He comes off too much like a professional detective who’s spent years in the business and not just a regular person who stumbles into the situation without knowing what he’s doing. The slick way that he solves the case and gets the necessary information is impressive, but not believable. Most people would’ve simply hired a private detective to investigate it and not spent hours away from their job trying to do it themselves, or if they take on the task they would most assuredly have make some mistakes, which this guy never does.

The mystery has enough intriguing elements to remain engaging, but the ultimate reveal is dull and makes one feel like they sat through a big buildup to nothing.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: March 29, 1972

Runtime: 1 Hour 41 Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Blake Edwards

Studio: MGM

Available: DVD (Warner Archive), Amazon Video, Youtube

2 responses to “The Carey Treatment (1972)

  1. Excellent review. You hit precisely on the head, that one great big flaw that bugs me each time I attempt to watch this movie. “Practicing Law Without A License!”

    Having spent a great many years working very closely with both doctors and nurses, while being neither, gives me a unique view into how medical professionals work, be it alone, with each other, and in small mixed groups.

    It does NOT, however, become so deeply embroiled in carrying out “rogue” investigations into seriously dangerous legal issues at the potential expense of one’s job, or the potential outcome of one’s job not being handled properly, to save anyone.

    All legal issues are handled and managed by the professionals trained to manage, and entrusted with, their investigation and the establishment of reliable, legal paper trails; legal investigations, identification of suspects and their interviews following proper protocol; and gathering, analysis, and proper storage of, evidence of any kind.

    Even the most seasoned, experienced detective will make a mistake, or go on a wild goose chase from time to time, due to what looks like promising evidence leading them astray. Friends in the profession have been very helpful in leading me through all the many steps and explaining the processes. I wouldn’t even go wandering about with that much information, much less none at all.

    The Police Department and I have a solid agreement, which seems to work well for both sides, and that is, they will not attempt to act as Certified Surgical Technologists; learn instruments, cases and supplies, set up sterile fields; glove and gown themselves and others; nor will they attend and assist in surgeries directly with surgeons; and I will not strap on a holster, put a gun and bullets in it, and attempt to investigate and solve legal and criminal cases! And, like I said, it seems to work well for both sides!

  2. Pingback: Coma (1978) | Scopophilia

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