The Carey Treatment

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]

The Carey Treatment
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBlake Edwards
Produced byWilliam Belasco
Screenplay byJames P. Bonner
Based onA Case of Need
1968 novel
by Jeffery Hudson
StarringJames Coburn
Jennifer O'Neill
Music byRoy Budd
CinematographyFrank Stanley
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • March 29, 1972 (1972-03-29)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States

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 August 1968 by AM Productions, the production company of Herb Alpert. They said filming would take place the following year in Boston.[3] In October Perry Leff signed Wendell Mayes to a two picture contract to write and produce, the first of which was to be A Case of Need.[4][5][6]

Film rights were then picked up by MGM. In March 1971 it was announced Bill Belasco was producing and Harriet Frank and Irving Ravetch were working on a script.[7] In June Blake Edwards signed to direct.[8]

Filming started in September 1971.[9]

Edwards launched a breach of contract suit against MGM and president James T. Aubrey for their post production tampering of the film.[10] 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.[11]



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."[12] 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."[13]


Edgar Allan Poe Awards

  • 1973: Nominated, "Best Motion Picture"

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. 'Case of Need' on A&M Slate Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 9 Aug 1968: e12.
  4. Irene Pappas Signs Contract Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]01 Oct 1968: c14.
  5. 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
  6. No Gap Like the Generation Gap By A. H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 July 1969: D11.
  7. Our 'Boy' Barbra: Our 'Boy' Barbra By A. H. WEILER. New York Times 21 Mar 1971: D13.
  8. Comeback for Ida Lupino Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 23 June 1971: e7.
  9. MGM Slates Busy Month in September Los Angeles Times 27 Aug 1971: d11.
  10. To Viet Nam with Hope Servi, Vera. Chicago Tribune 20 Dec 1971: b20.
  11. What's Going On in the Lion's Den at MGM?: What's Going On Warga, Wayne. Los Angeles Times 26 Dec 1971: q1.
  12. The Carey Treatment Movie Review (1972) | Roger Ebert
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