The Lazarus Syndrome

Director: Jerry Thorpe

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Lhe Lazarus Syndrome (1978) in circulation as a video & dvd originated as a pilot film for a shortlived ABC medical series that ran a very few episodes in 1979. As a stand-alone film, it's an effective little drama that I kind of watched by accident because the title suggested science fiction, which it ain't.

Louis Gosset Jr. stars as Dr. MacArthur St Clair, a cardiologist who spends all his time at the hospital to avoid dealing with issues in his marriage.

A patient in his thirties, Joe Hammill (Ronald Hunter), nearly dies of a heart attack, revived in the nick of time. Joe has been cheating on his wife & while in coronary care asks Dr. St Clair to make sure his wife & his mistress don't reach his room at the same time.

Dr. Mendel (E. G. Marshall) is chasing a big grant for a big study in a manic manner. Joe thinks Dr. Mendell is an addict, specifically a speed-freak. Dr. St Clair refuses to believe it, as Mendell is a world-class surgeon in the eyes of the world, & had mentored St. Clair when he was a young man persuing a specialty in heart disease.

But Joe's probably right. Eventually St Clair begins to have doubts about Mendell, but can see nothing specific wrong with Mendell's diagnoses.

And watch for a young John de Lancie who played "Q" on Star Trek spin-offs, as one of the hospital staff.

The meaning of the title The Lazarus Syndrome as defined by St Clair is when a patient believes a doctor has godlike powers of resurrection, & look to their physician not only as magical healer but also as counselor & priest.

Joe is freaked by his failing heart & foolishly wants a heart transplant though such an extreme treatment is not indicated. He's a high-maintenance nuisance patient, but he's somehow "gotten" to Dr. St Clair.

Dominguez (Rene Enriquez) needs a heart bypass operation & Mendell is his doctor. Mistrustful Joe puts it into his fellow patient's head that Mendell might not be reliable, & to get a second opinion. Dominguez is so frightened that his pitifulness touches everyone, but Mendell is annoyed & threatened by St Clair being asked for a second opinion.

Joe & St Clair are ready to watch Dominguez's heart surgery from atop the operating theater when suddenly St Clair realizes he's been duped in a horrible manner. Dominguez's angiogram wasn't the one Mendell gave him for the second opinion, & he may be doing an unwarrented surgery.

For long stretches The Lazarus Syndrome is just a soap opera contrasting two men's family lives, weighing morality & relationship & the meaning of marriage. But the key players are good enough actors to hold our interest even without being soap opera fans.

A bond between Joe & Sinclair is very strong by the end, & the soap opera has become a tale of respect & friendship & mutual concern.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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