Whose Life Is It Anyway? (film)

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Whose Life Is It Anyway?
Whose Life is it Anyway? poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
Directed by John Badham
Produced by Lawrence P. Bachman
Written by Brian Clark
(play, screenplay)
Reginald Rose (screenplay)
Starring Richard Dreyfuss
John Cassavetes
Christine Lahti
Bob Balaban
Music by Arthur B. Rubinstein
Cinematography Mario Tosi
Edited by Frank Morriss
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • December 2, 1981 (1981-12-02)
Running time
119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million
Box office $8.2 million

Whose Life Is It Anyway? is a 1981 film adapted by Brian Clark and Reginald Rose from a 1972 television movie and Clark's play of the same title. The film is directed by John Badham and stars Richard Dreyfuss.


After a car accident, sculptor Ken Harrison becomes a quadriplegic who sues for the right to end his life, no longer able to create art, make love or have any semblance of a normal existence. He hires a lawyer (Bob Balaban) who, reluctantly at first, represents Harrison while knowing that he is trying to win his client a death sentence.

Staunchly opposed to euthanasia is a by-the-book hospital administrator (John Cassavetes), who is determined to keep his patient alive even against his wishes, and sympathetic doctor (Christine Lahti), who develops personal feelings for Harrison. She wants to keep him alive, even though Harrison's girlfriend has accepted his decision.

A young orderly (Thomas Carter) and nurse (Kaki Hunter) do what they can to keep Harrison's spirits up, even wheeling him to a hospital basement where they treat him to reggae music and marijuana. In the end, though, it is up to a judge (Kenneth McMillan) whether the patient has a moral, ethical and legal right to choose to die.


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