Sunday, 13 July 2008

The Carey Treatment (1972)

Blake Edwards directs James Coburn in this entertaining but ridiculous murder-mystery, based on a Michael Crichton novel, with a few serious themes, dabbling with the moral exigencies of abortion and social elitism, somewhat smothered under '70s gloss and "hip" attitude, and an overall approach that suggests a feature-length pilot for a show that could well have been called Murder, He Diagnosed or something. Coburn plays the title character, a free-spirited hipster pathologist - yeah, baby - who breezes into a private Boston hospital and shakes things up in the white-bread establishment. His friend David Tao (James Hong) is imprisoned for killing the daughter of the hospital's boss (Dan O'Herlihy) in a botched abortion. Carey sets out to prove his innocence and romances stunning dietician Jennifer O'Neil at the same time. Carey adjusts from doctor to dick in a few minutes and begins running down suspects and tight-lipped witnesses with aplomb. It's a pity that Edwards doesn't keep a tighter rein on the film's fancies, in stupid scenes like Carey shaking an admission out of teenage girl by driving her about dangerously, or forcing a confession out of the killer with placebo torture. A rare Edwards film not to feature a Henry Mancini score, boasting instead a terrible parade of lift music by Roy Budd.

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