Cast & Crew
When California pathologist Peter Carey accepts new position at a conservative Boston hospital, he is reunited with his old colleague David Tao, an Asian-American doctor. After staff introductions on his first day, Carey invites attractive dietician Georgia Hightower to join him and David for dinner. That evening, while the sardonic Carey flirts with Georgia, David gives him the background on various doctors, including chief surgeon J. D. Randall, a racist whose wealthy family endowed the hospital. Soon after, Georgia helps Carey find a deluxe bachelor apartment and tells him that her husband recently abandoned her and her son. The two then begin a casual affair. Days later, Carey briefly meets J. D.'s daughter Karen, a frightened fifteen-year-old girl, and then has his first encounter with J. D., a talented but abrupt and demanding surgeon, more concerned with his golf game than his patients. That night, Karen dies at the Randall home, apparently from a botched abortion, an illegal procedure. David, who has been secretly performing abortions, is immediately taken into custody for the crime. When Carey visits him in jail, David explains that he began performing abortions after seeing young women mutilated by amateur abortionists. David charges only $25 for the procedure to cover the lab fee, which soon-to-retire pathologist Sanderson disguises to prevent David from being caught. David explains that when Karen asked for the procedure after missing her period for four months, he advised her to have the child. Carey, a maverick, is determined to find justice for his friend and remains undeterred even when police captain Pearson warns him that Karen's mother will testify that Karen told her David performed the abortion. Carey replies that David, an excellent surgeon, would not have done the procedure so poorly. Realizing the odds are against his friend, Carey begins his own investigation and asks Sanderson to take over his duties at the hospital. Sitting in on Karen's autopsy, Carey learns that the blonde young girl had recent weight gain and dark hair growth on her arms and upper lip. The coroner also notes that the abortion was done by someone who had some experience but was not an accomplished professional. Believing that Karen might not have been pregnant, Carey gives a sample of her blood to Dr. Barker to test for pregnancy. Hosting a party that night, Carey flirts with Barker's surly assistant, Angela Holder, a drug addict who Carey believes might be responsible for the recent morphine thefts at the hospital, but Angela eludes his questions. Late that night, Karen's brother, Harvey William Randall, breaks into Carey's home to attack him, admitting that he wants to stop him from freeing David. Carey easily subdues the young man and then learns that Karen attended a private girl's school and that their uncle, Joshua, is also a doctor who performs abortions for the wealthy. Days later, despite J. D.'s insistence that he stop his investigation, Carey seeks out Karen's stepmother, Evelyn Randall, an inhospitable drunk who is more concerned with her social standing than finding Karen's killer. Mrs. Randall is convinced that a $300 check made out to cash found in Karen's purse was meant for David. That night, Carey examines samples of Karen's tissue and deduces that she suffered from a tumor, not a pregnancy. The next morning, Carey interviews Karen's school roommate, Lydia Barrett, who evades his questions. Suspecting that Lydia is hiding something, Carey takes her on a terrifying car ride, refusing to slow down until she tells the truth. Lydia finally admits that she hated Karen for stealing her boyfriend, Roger Hudson. Later, lab work reveals that Karen was not pregnant. Carey then learns that David sent Karen to Joshua after he refused to help her. When Carey confronts Joshua, the insensitive doctor explains that he sent Karen away, telling her to return later for tests. That night, while Carey and Georgia are making love, a photographer snaps their picture through a window, but Carey chases after him and takes the film. Days later, Carey brashly walks into J. D.'s office with a poster-sized print of the revealing shot and states that any attempt to blackmail him into quitting the investigation is pointless. Discovering that Roger works as a masseur, Carey goes to the sleazy parlor where he works and, while Roger is giving him a massage, attempts to provoke him by suggesting that he is supplying drugs to Angela and accusing him of getting Karen pregnant. The impudent and wild-eyed young man denies the charges, but when Roger begins to manhandle him, Carey punches him. Leaving to call the police, Carey is then seriously injured when Roger rams his car into the phone booth. While Carey is admitted to the hospital, Roger seeks out Angela in the laboratory and stabs her, but not before she wounds him as well. Now bloodied, Roger hides in a closet, and when a nurse follows Roger's trail of blood to the closet, he stabs her, too. After Angela is found and sent to emergency, Carey, who has barely regained consciousness, makes a plan with Dr. Murphy and Pearson to trick the drug-addicted Angela into divulging the truth by erroneously informing her that she could die from going "cold turkey" from her drugs. He then offers her a morphine fix in exchange for the truth, telling Angela that if she dies he can easily label it something else and suffer no blame. Panicked, Angela confesses that she killed Karen while attempting to perform an abortion on her for drug money to pay Roger, her supplier, who acted as the anesthetist. Carey then gives her the "morphine," which is only a saline solution. Collapsing from internal bleeding, Carey is given a splenectomy and taken to a recovery room where Roger, still lurking in the hospital, tries to stab him, but Pearson shoots Roger first. After David is freed from jail, J. D. apologizes to Carey for doubting him, explaining that "pride makes for perversity." When Carey and Georgia reunite, she tells him her repentant husband has returned, but Carey suggests that he can provide the love and commitment she and her son need.
John D. F. Black
James P. Bonner
Harriet Frank Jr.
Michael S. Glick
Harry W. Tetrick
Charles M. Wilborn
Ralph E. Winters
The Carey Treatment
The first piece in the film's puzzle is author Michael Crichton. The best selling writer, who began publishing fiction to put himself through Harvard Medical School, turned out the novel A Case of Need, from which The Carey Treatment is adapted, under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson. The story allegedly contained references to actual people at Harvard thus necessitating the need for a penname. But Crichton wouldn't be able to keep his secret for long. A Case of Need won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award in 1968, prompting Crichton to step forward and claim the prize and authorship. In the meantime, another Crichton work beat A Case of Need to the screen. The Andromeda Strain was released a year before The Carey Treatment in 1971. And in 1972, Crichton decided to direct a TV adaptation of his novel Pursuit. He would then go on to direct big screen versions of Westworld (1973) and Coma (1978). Crichton's later credits would include two benchmarks of American pop culture: he created the television show ER and wrote the novel and co-wrote the screenplay for Jurassic Park (1993).
Based on Crichton's involvement alone, The Carey Treatment had the makings of a promising film. But changes to the script (at MGM's urging) forced screenwriters Irving Ravetch, Harriet Frank, Jr. and John D. F. Black to remove their names from the picture. The credited screenwriter on the picture is now listed as the pseudonymous James P. Bonner.
In addition, director Blake Edwards, who already had a running feud with MGM, was further angered by cuts made to The Carey Treatment by the studio. Edwards¿ previous film for the studio had been the western Wild Rovers (1971), from which MGM edited out forty minutes from the original two and a half hour runtime. The results were disappointing to say the least and Edwards felt that "some of the original conception had been lost." Still, the director agreed to make one more film (The Carey Treatment) for MGM. Again, he faced opposition from the studio. Edwards referred to the final cut of The Carey Treatment as "a shambles" and basically washed his hands of the project (though he still received screen credit). After his experience with The Carey Treatment Edwards took a leave from Hollywood, retreating to Europe with wife Julie Andrews to write. As Edwards put it, "I determined in my own mind that I would never direct another film. I intended to keep on writing and knew I could make a good living from that alone. I didn't see where it was worth it to fight so much viciousness and irrationality to make pictures I believed in. I was escaping, and it was necessary that I do so." During this time he wrote scripts for the surprise hit 10 (1979) and S.O.B. (1981).
The Carey Treatment, despite the studio's meddling, opened to a number of favorable reviews. The New York Daily News called it a "well-organized murder mystery, generally well acted." The LA Times said it was "Blake Edwards¿ best picture in years" and that it "[offered] James Coburn...his best role since moving up from supporting player to star." And certainly, in retrospect, The Carey Treatment has two thing going for it. First, it presents an early mystery from Crichton - who would become one of the master storytellers of our day. And, it stands as a fascinating time capsule of its era, one that explores the controversy of abortion in the years before Roe v. Wade. Telling details like a bloody ER (now unimaginable) without a latex glove in sight and seventies lingo like "you just stay who you are baby, I'll stay who I am" gives The Carey Treatment a quirky appeal, enhanced by its unlikely mixture of hospital drama and detective thriller.
Producer: William Belasco, Barry Mendelson
Director: Blake Edwards
Screenplay: Harriet Frank, Jr., Michael Crichton (novel)
Cinematography: Frank Stanley
Film Editing: Ralph E. Winters
Art Direction: Alfred Sweeney
Music: Roy Budd
Cast: James Coburn (Dr. Peter Carey), Jennifer O'Neill (Georgia Hightower), Pat Hingle (Capt. Pearson), Skye Aubrey (Angela Holder), Elizabeth Allen (Evelyn Randall), Dan O'Herlihy (Dr. J.D. Randall).
C-101m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames
The Carey Treatment
The working titles for the film were Emergency Ward and A Case of Need. The Carey Treatment was based on A Case of Need, a novel written by Michael Crichton under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson, the name used in the onscreen credits. Crichton received an "Edgar" Award from the Mystery Writers of America for A Case of Need, which was also chosen by them as the best novel for 1968.
According to a June 26, 1968 Variety article, A&M Records had acquired the film rights to the novel. By September 20, 1968, Variety noted that A&M had signed Wendell Mayes to write the screenplay for the film, but on March 20, 1971 Hollywood Reporter reported that Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., a husband-and-wife team, would write the screenplay for M-G-M. No additional information about A&M Records' involvement is known.
According to Filmfacts, director Blake Edwards was so displeased with the final cuts M-G-M made to The Carey Treatment that he disowned the film and refused onscreen credit; however, his name did appear on the viewed print. In addition, screenwriters Ravetch and Frank, Jr. were so upset by the changes made to their script that they insisted that their onscreen credit read "James P. Bonner," a pseudonym the team had used on the 1969 film House of Cards. Screenwriter John D. F. Black also refused to have his credit onscreen. Although a March 20, 1971 and a December 6, 1971 Hollywood Reporter article stated that The Carey Treatment was the first film for producer William Belasco's St. Regis Productions, this company was not listed on screen or in reviews.
A modern source adds Stephen Manley, Sol Schwade, Dick Crockett and Ed Peck to the cast. The Carey Treatment marked the feature film debut for actress Skye Aubrey, daughter of M-G-M president James Aubrey and actress Phyllis Thaxter. Blake Edwards' daughter Jennifer also had a role in the film. As noted in reviews and Hollywood Reporter production charts, The Carey Treatment marked the last feature film for actress Elizabeth Allen (1929-2006), who continued her acting career for many years in television. The film was shot on location in Boston, MA.
Released in United States 1972
Released in United States 1972