The Carey Treatment

The Carey Treatment

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Blake Edwards
Produced by William Belasco
Screenplay by James P. Bonner
Based on A Case of Need
1968 novel
by Jeffery Hudson
Starring James Coburn
Jennifer O'Neill
Music by Roy Budd
Cinematography Frank Stanley
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • March 29, 1972 (1972-03-29)
Running time
101 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Carey Treatment is a 1972 film by Blake Edwards based on the novel A Case of Need credited to Jeffery Hudson, a pseudonym for Michael Crichton. Like Darling Lili and Wild Rovers before this, The Carey Treatment was heavily edited without help from Edwards by the studio into a running time of one hour and 41 minutes; these edits were later satirized in his 1981 comedy S.O.B..[1][2]

Plot summary

Dr. Peter Carey (James Coburn) is a pathologist who moves to Boston, where he starts working in a hospital. He soon meets Georgia Hightower (Jennifer O'Neill), with whom he falls in love. Karen Randall (Melissa Torme-March), daughter of the hospital's Chief Doctor, becomes pregnant and is brought to the emergency department after an illegal abortion. She dies there, and Dr. David Tao (James Hong), a brilliant surgeon and friend of Carey, is arrested and accused of being responsible for the illegal abortion. Carey does not believe his friend to be guilty and starts investigating on his own, despite strong opposition by the police and the doctors around the hospital's chief.



Film rights were bought in 1969 by AM Productions, the production company of Herb Alpert.[3][4] They were then picked up by MGM[5] and filming started in September 1971.[6]

Edwards launched a breach of contract suit against MGM and president James Aubrey for their post production tampering of the film.[7] Edwards:

The whole experience was, in terms of filmmaking, extraordinarily destructive. The temper and tantrums from my producer, William Belasco, were such that he insulted me in front of the cast and crew and offered to bet me $1,000 that I'd never work in Hollywood again if I didn't do everything his and Aubrey's way. They told me that they didn't want quality, just a viewable film. The crew felt so bad about the way I was treated that they gave me a party - and usually it's the other way round. I know I've been guilty of excuses but my God what do you have to do to pay your dues? I made Wild Rovers for MGM and kept quiet when they recut it. But this time I couldn't take it. I played fair. They didn't.[8]



The Carey Treatment received mostly mediocre to negative reviews. Roger Ebert wrote, "The problem is in the script. There are long, sterile patches of dialog during which nothing at all is communicated. These are no doubt important in order to convey the essential meaninglessness of life, but how can a director make them interesting? Edwards tries."[9] Vincent Canby of The New York Times was amused by the film but wrote, "...I don't think we have to take this too seriously, for 'The Carey Treatment,' like so many respectable private-eye movies, is sustained almost entirely by irrelevancies."[10]


Edgar Allan Poe Awards

See also


  1. Julie Andrews: Bye, Mary Poppins, here's a thoroughly modern movie star Julie Andrews changes image from 'Mary Poppins' to 'S.O.B.' Brown, Peter H. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 28 June 1981: k1.
  2. Anatomy of a Blake Edwards Splat Kehr, Dave. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 Feb 2004: MT26.
  3. Dropping the Scalpel: Film Notes Columbia Frowns Speeds the Turnover Refuge From Roles By Judith Martin. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973) [Washington, D.C] 28 Feb 1969: B12. Turn on hit highlighting for speaking browsers by selecting the Enter buttonHide highlighting
  4. No Gap Like the Generation Gap By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 July 1969: D11.
  5. Our 'Boy' Barbra: Our 'Boy' Barbra By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Mar 1971: D13.
  6. MGM Slates Busy Month in September Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Aug 1971: d11.
  7. To Viet Nam with Hope Servi, Vera. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 20 Dec 1971: b20.
  8. What's Going On in the Lion's Den at MGM?: What's Going On Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 Dec 1971: q1.
  9. The Carey Treatment Movie Review (1972) | Roger Ebert
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