Some big flaws disturb the drama but add accidental laughs
I can't recommend this movie if you want to see a serious, suspenseful medical crime drama, in the sombre and gut-wrenching mood that Blake Edwards was apparently trying to achieve. But if you want to get a kick out of some hilariously flawed filmmaking, then this might be worth your while. First of all, it's got Coburn, who always gives a sincere and stoic performance even when bad writing threatens to sabotage him. He's a good actor and screen presence, and it's fun to have him at the center of this madcap series of intensifying interrogations in which he bullies grown men, women and teenage girls in increasingly imaginitive ways. A few other good actors appear, and with decent production values and Blake Edwards directing skillfully in the technical sense, this movie almost appears to be the real deal... for awhile. But the serious aire increases way beyond the plausibility of the plot twists, a factor which turns out to be disastrous to the suspense and drama, but a boon for its campy, accidentally-comic effect. I'll never forgot this movie now, mainly, for how much inappropriate laughter it incurred.
This is the kind of flick that the Mystery Science Theater guys could sink their teeth into. Another movie that I just saw that reminded me of "The Carey Treatment" in the first place was "Don't Look Now", which was filmed in Venice and featured Donald Sutherland, an actor who is tall and lean and serious like Coburn. It's another good example of how melodrama-thrillers can be riotously funny when they miss the mark. Both films have a good seed of a story, and both directors expertly maintain their chosen feel and mood, but strange plot twists and overwrought, overwritten, and/or overlong scenes come into stark contrast with that mood. The clashing is so acute and wince-worthy that you can't help giggling while Coburn drives a schoolgirl into the ocean in a big station wagon to scare her into telling him the truth. It's a good film school lesson in both 'what to do' and 'what not to do', and a good laugh at the same time. I recommend it if you are ready to resist taking it too seriously, or if you are a Coburn fan. And if you are a Blake Edwards fan, well, this comedy is not quite the same as Inspector Clouseau-funny, but you probably won't mind the distinction as long as you're laughing.