Imagine your life hangs by a thread. Imagine your body hangs by a wire. Imagine you’re not imagining.


After losing her best friend who died after what was supposed to be minor surgery at a Boston hospital, doctor Susan Wheeler (Genevieve Bujold) discovers that she’s not the only case. A sense of credibility is confidently built in the first scenes of this medical thriller – which is what you’d expect from a writer and director who’s also a doctor, basing his movie on a novel by another doctor. At the time of its release, Michael Crichton had turned into a pretty good director of thrillers, and he skillfully ratchets up tension as Bujold (who’s excellent) turns into a sleuth uncovering a conspiracy at the hospital. Gets a shot in the arm from its eerily cold environs and Jerry Goldsmith’s score.

1978-U.S. 113 min. Color. Produced by Martin Erlichman. Written and directed by Michael Crichton. Novel: Robin Cook. Music: Jerry Goldsmith. Cast: Genevieve Bujold (Susan Wheeler), Michael Douglas (Mark Bellows), Elizabeth Ashley (Mrs. Emerson), Rip Torn, Richard Widmark, Lance LeGault… Lois Chiles.

Trivia: Tom Selleck and Ed Harris have bit parts. Remade as a miniseries, Coma (2012).

Last word: “This is a story that contains many elements of reality: the fear people have of surgery, the fear of dying at the hands of your doctor, phobias about hospitals. Those are very real fears, and so to exaggerate them would not be much fun. My idea was to put the picture together in such a way that the fears are put in a safe prospective, and can be enjoyed as scares, without awakening deeper and more real anxieties.” (Crichton, Millimeter Magazine)


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