James Coburn prescribes pain in the THE CAREY TREATMENT
In the late 60s into the 70s actor James Coburn starred in a bunch of great films like In Like Flint, The Presidents Analyst, Duck You Sucker, Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, Harry in Your Pocket, Hard Times and The Last Hard Men just to name a few. One of the movies from that era that I recently discovered thanks to Turner Classic Movies is Blake Edwards’ 1972 mystery-thriller THE CAREY TREATMENT. Being a big fan of Coburn, I was going to watch the movie regardless of the genre. If you’re not familiar with it, the title actually makes it sound like your typical drama or even a comedy but it really is something much more intriguing.
Based on a novel by Michael Crichton, The Carey Treatment stars Coburn as Dr. Peter Carey, a pathologist who works at a hospital in Boston. There he meets a beautiful young woman named Georgia Hightower (Jennifer O’Neill) and they begin seeing each other. When the daughter of the hospital’s Chief Doctor dies following an illegal abortion, Carey’s old friend and fellow doctor Dave Tao (James Hong) is blamed and thrown in jail. Carey talks to him and doesn’t believe he’s responsible. He then begins his own investigation as to what really happened to the young woman and who is behind framing Tao. The movie becomes a suspenseful detective thriller with Carey tracking down all the various people who might know the real circumstances about her death. As Carey follows all leads, his methods of interrogation get rougher than expected for such a prestigious, seemingly peaceful physician. The movie seems to be partly inspired by classic noir like Kiss Me Deadly and Point Blank. Both those movies feature hard boiled tough guys roughing people up to get the answers they’re looking for.
If you’re a film geek, you’ll enjoy the supporting cast of characters who appear like Pat Hingle (Hang Em’ High, Batman), James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China), Jennifer O’Neill (Lucio Fulci’s 1977 giallo The Psychic), Dan O’Herlihy (Robocop) and Michael Blodgett (Beyond The Valley of the Dolls).
The Carey Treatment is an offbeat gem from the 1970s that I highly recommend to fans of that era of cinema.