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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

Dr. Carey & Mr. Hyde

A pair of doctor-centered blu-ray debuts is out this month from Warner Archive. First up we have James Coburn as a pathologist who turns into a private eye in 1972’s “The Carey Treatment,” then we have Spencer Tracy in MGM’s prestige production of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” from 1941.

Directed by Blake Edwards “The Carey Treatment” is centered around Dr. Peter Carey, a pathologist who is a bit of a rogue character. Some of those tendencies clash with the establishment at the Boston hospital he’s newly employed at. Soon, Carey finds himself playing the part of a detective as one of his colleagues is accused of murder following an illegal abortion. Carey begins to get to the bottom of things, coming up against hypocrisy at the hospital

This MGM film, based upon a 1968 book written by “Jurassic Park” author Michael Crichton under a pseudonym is rather atypical for the work of Blake Edwards, who is perhaps best known for being behind the long-running “Pink Panther” film series with Peter Sellers. There may be a reason for that as Edwards was furious at MGM for cutting and editing the film behind his back. Something that had happened on the last film that he made with the studio the year prior. This led to Edwards suing MGM.

The early ‘70s was an interesting time for MGM, as the audience's tastes for musicals dwindled, which had been the studio’s bread and butter, they became a bit rudderless. The film, as it stands, is a pretty good little crime thriller. Anything with ‘70s era silver fox James Coburn will get an instant watch from me. In some ways the movie reminds me of “The Long Goodbye,” but with Coburn standing in for Phillip Marlowe—even if “The Carey Treatment” isn’t a noir.

The new blu-ray made from a brand-new HD master looks great. The colors are sharp and correct, and it’s nice to see the film in the format. It’s a good movie and one well worth watching, but it does make me wonder what Edwards's original intent with the film was? Lord knows any deleted material must be long gone now, but as is, “The Carey Treatment” isn’t bad.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” has been adapted for film many times. In 1931, Paramount made a take on the story with Fredric March, which won him the Oscar for Best Actor. Ten years later they tried again with Spencer Tracy in the title role. The 1941 MGM take on the film is less of a horror movie and more of a costume drama. It’s also, not as good as the 1931 film. MGM actually bought the rights to the 1931 film, which was made by Paramount, to keep it “locked away” to avoid competition.

There’s a lot going for the MGM film, Tracy’s co-stars are Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner, but overall the film just lacks a certain punch that the 1931 film has. It’s not a bad film, don’t get me wrong, it’s well made and Tracy is good, but once you see the Fredric March film it’s hard to forget about it. The movie was directed by Victor Flemming, who did MGM’s famed adaptation of “Gone with the Wind.” It ads that air of “important work of literature” to the goings on that seems very in keeping with MGM being known as the prestige studio of classic Hollywood.

The acting is good across the board and the film has some good atmospheric lighting, but most disappointingly is the make up to transform Tracy into Mr. Hyde doesn’t look all that shocking or dramatically different than Tracy as is. This is another department which makes this such a contrast to the 1931 film. Not to put the words into too mute of a point, but it’s a typical affair for an A-lister MGM book adaptation of the era.

Again sourced from a new HD transfer or existing elements, this blu-ray of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” looks fantastic! It’s clear and sharp with good contrast. You can’t go wrong with this disc. For fans of this take on the film, picking this up is a no-brainer.

That’s all for this week, both films are worth your time and well worth owning if you’re a fan of either of them. Regardless, it’s always great to see older films come out on blu-ray thanks to Warner Archive. We’re lucky they’re out there doing what they do. See you next week.


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