Saturday, September 18, 2021


Movie Name:
Year of Release: 1978
Director: Michael Crichton
Starring: Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas, Richard Widmark, Lois Chilles, Rip Torn, Elizabeth Ashley, Tom Selleck, Hari Rhodes, Gary Barton, Richard Doyle, Lance LeGault, Charles Siebert, William Wintersole
Genre: Drama, Suspense
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Following his feature directorial debut with "Westworld", writer/producer/director Michael Crichton tackled the adaptation of a Robin Cook book, an author well known for his medical set novels. The film follows the story of Dr. Susan Wheeler, a Boston Hospital resident, who is an accomplished surgeon, and who is involved in a relationship with one of her colleagues, Dr. Mark Bellows. Susan starts investigating a few incidents that are occurring at the hospital, once one of her good friends, who is coming for a small procedure has what it seems a complication from the surgery and ends up in a coma, the same occurring shortly afterwards with a professional athlete. Susan's investigations get her in trouble with the general direction of the hospital, but undeterred, she eventually uncovers a sinister plan that is being executed at the hospital. Her investigation also places her as a target for everyone trying to keep that plan running smoothly, people who will stop at nothing to make sure things remain unchanged.
"Coma", which was released in 1978 manages to be a film that is to this day, somewhat timeless in some of the topics that it tackles, and yet also very representative of the 70s. For starters it's a film that makes its central focus a woman, a protagonist who is highly skilled, and also someone who has a highly visible job, who sadly has to constantly deflect & battle some preconceived notions of how women behave, and also tackle all sorts of harassment. Michael Crichton doesn't shy away from showcasing these unfortunate situations Susan finds herself in, though sadly he never gives her character more opportunities to demonstrate who she truly is, beyond being a doctor who is investigating a series of suspicious incidents. The film definitely captures the struggles of Susan balancing a thriving career, with a personal life, something that other films in the 70s also captured in different environments, such as Martin Ritt's "Norma Rae", Paul Mazursky's "An Unmarried Woman" and even Martin Scorsese's "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore", to name but a few. While Susan's journey is enticing, the supporting characters are sadly formulaic, including both her partner Mark, and her boss, the duplicitous Dr. Harris. It's a film that while having his contrivances, has a great cast, with Genevieve Bujold, Michael Douglas, Richard Widmark and Elizabeth Ashley all creating solid characters, with a solid score from the wonderful Jerry Goldsmith and equally solid cinematography from Victor J. Kemper. Worth watching.