Sunday, May 19, 2013

Hard To Play God Doing Five To Life, Man

1972's THE CAREY TREATMENT was a job of work for Blake Edwards (THE PINK PANTHER), who neither wrote nor produced this medical thriller based on an early novel by Michael Crichton: the Edgar-winning A CASE OF NEED, which he wrote under the name Jeffery Hudson. No writer wanted to take credit for this film, because credited screenwriter James P. Bonner is actually the trio of Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr. (HUD) and John D.F. Black (SHAFT). Edwards hated the film too. I like it, as swinging physician James Coburn (OUR MAN FLINT) bounces from clue to clue, suspect to suspect, hanging in there during the plot turns and chases.

Newly arrived in Boston for a new job as a pathologist at a swanky hospital, Dr. Peter Carey (Coburn) turns amateur sleuth after his friend and colleague David Tao (James Hong) is accused of killing a fifteen-year-old girl during an illegal abortion. He uncovers most of his leads through bullying and wisecracks, but Coburn is such a charming performer that he can get away with anything (to a wealthy, flirty housewife who claims she’s much too young to be the mother of her teenage stepdaughter, Coburn grins that Cheshire grin and laconically answers, “If you say so”).

Look, no one’s saying THE CAREY TREATMENT isn’t ludicrous—it sure as hell is, and it’s a little sloppy in the post-production department too (Edwards reportedly split or was fired after shooting was completed). It gives Coburn the opportunity to be groovy and hip and cool, which hardly any movie star did better. It also provides a good scene or two for its talented supporting actors, such as Pat Hingle (great in his initial volley with Coburn), Jennifer O'Neill, Dan O’Herlihy, Alex Dreier (also interesting in his single scene), Regis Toomey, Robert Mandan, John Hillerman, Ed Peck, and Michael Blodgett. Another indication Edwards left the project early: score by Roy Budd, not Henry Mancini.


Richard Harland Smith said...

I like it, too.

Bobby Trosclair said...

I had no idea this was based on a Crichton novel!

I remember seeing it when it was originally released, I will have to check it out again. Coburn was one of my icons of cool as a young man.

If you get a chance and are interested in some of Blake Edwards' atypical films, check out his 1962 film noir "EXPERIMENT IN TERROR," filmed on location in San Francisco. Great FBI thriller (Hoover reportedly hated it, which is ironic as it is one of the more realistic FBI films yet the agents come off very well and cooly professional - it was based on a novel by a former FBI agent with the very cool name of Gordon Gordon - who also wrote the novel that Disney adapted as :THAT DARN CAT" with Haley Mills.

Ross Martin, who also appeared in Edward's "THE GREAT RACE" does a virtuoso role as an asthmatic bank robber.

Marty McKee said...

Oh yeah, EXPERIMENT IN TERROR is great. Better than THE CAREY TREATMENT even.