Monday, July 25, 2011

The Carey Treatment

As part of a birthday salute to director Blake Edwards, TCM is showing the movie The Carey Treatment tomorrow morning at 11:15 AM. It's an interesting product of its time, and one that's worth a viewing.

James Coburn stars as Peter Carey, a man who's just accepted a job at a prominent Boston hospital. Almost as soon as he gets there, the 15-year-old daughter of the chief of staff bleeds to death after a botched abortion; the movie having been released in 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal across the country. Dr. Tao (James Hong) one of the doctors on staff believes that the anti-abortion laws are morally wrong, so he uses his services to perform abortions, even though they're illegal. As such, suspicion naturally falls on Dr. Tao, but Dr. Carey begins to investigate and has reason to believe Dr. Tao might not actually be guilty, and the cause of death is something that happened later.

This is a position that causes a lot of problems for Dr. Carey for several reasons. It's not such a good idea to butt heads with the chief of staff when you've been on staff for such a short period of time. But worse is that any of the other people who might have been involved in the death of this girl have obvious reasons to want Carey not to get involved. And they'll go to great lengths to keep Dr. Carey from discovering the truth.

As such, The Carey Treatment is a movie that fits into a well-trodden path of movies where the investigator has to watch his step very carefully: it could be Glenn Ford in The Big Heat, or Dick Powell's The Tall Target, which I recommended a few days back. But The Carey Treatment is interesting in that the main character isn't an investigator by trade, and also in that he can be rather more violent then characters 20 years earlier and get away with it. If Glenn Ford or Dick Powell had tried what Coburn does, they'd have wound up like Kirk Douglas in Detective Story. On the other hand, it means that the climax is rather more grim than even The Big Heat, which has some shocking moments.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Nice review. I'm watching the movie now, and somehow, I am reminded of the other famous pathologist, House. Coburn actually resembles Hugh Laurie just a little bit ... or should I say Laurie resembles Coburn. Anyway, it's an enjoyable mystery, well worth watching.