Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981) - Rotten Tomatoes

Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1981)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Stepping into the role made famous on Broadway by Tom Conti, Richard Dreyfuss stars as a profoundly handicapped sculptor in Whose Life is it Anyway? Left a quadraplegic after an auto accident, the embittered Dreyfuss feels utterly useless, as both an artist and a human being. He doesn't want his family's love, or his doctor's care, or his nurse's ministrations. Dreyfuss simply wants to die-but this is impossible, given the legal state of things in the 1970s. Whose Life is It Anyway? may be the only film in which a person's right to self-destruction is regarded as a happy ending. Not as depressing as it sounds, Whose Life Is It Anyway is perversely hilarious at times, with Dreyfuss at his acerbic best. The film was scripted by Reginald Rose and Brian Clark from Clark's stage play.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Brian Clark, Brian Clark, Reginald Rose, Robert E. Collins
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2007
Warner Home Video


Richard Dreyfuss
as Ken Harrison
John Cassavetes
as Dr. Michael Emerson
Christine Lahti
as Dr. Clare Scott
Bob Balaban
as Carter Hill
Kenneth McMillan
as Judge Wyler
Kaki Hunter
as Mary Jo
Thomas Carter
as Orderly John
Alba Oms
as Nurse Rodriguez
Kathryn Grody
as Mrs. Boyle
George Wyner
as Dr. Jacobs
Mel Stewart
as Dr. Barr
Ward Costello
as Mr. Eden
Alston Ahern
as Day Nurse
Betty Cole
as ICU Nurse
Lyman Ward
as Emergency Room Docto...
Alan Stock
as 3rd-Year Student
Jeffrey Combs
as 1st-Year Intern
Wabei Slyolwe
as Court Clerk
John Garber
as Physiotherapist
Katie Guymon
as Anesthesiologist
Fred Slyter
as Court Clerk
Tony Simotes
as Orthodpedic Surgeon
Sebastian DeFrancesc...
as Basketball Player
Thomas Collette
as Basketball Player
Duane F. Johnson
as Basketball Player
Larry D. Callaghan
as Basketball Player
William E. Townsend
as Basketball Player
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Whose Life Is It Anyway?

Critic Reviews for Whose Life Is It Anyway?

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (4)

Full Review… | October 24, 2008
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 10, 2004
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Talky, depressing, ranting.

October 15, 2004
Kansas City Kansan

Focuses on the right to die wishes of a sculptor who's paralyzed and provides viewers an opportunity to test their attitudes toward making choices about life and death.

Full Review… | January 30, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Whose Life Is It Anyway?

I had heard this was a very good play, but I was unaware it was a movie until recently. Dreyfuss gives both a charmingly hilarious and emotionally heart-wrenching performance as a quadriplegic sculptor who's lost the will to live. extremely thought-provoking as you find yourself never definitively taking a side all the way to the perfectly apropos ending. a film that really slides under the radar, but it's really quite amazing.


Important issues of dignity & self determination at the end of one's life. Superb acting by Richard Dreyfuss.

Patti t

The theme of this movie is: choice. It hasnt been around the shelves for awhile, so many havent had a chance to see it. Go see it if you can. It will make you think more than twice about your own mortality.

Mitsouko Wilson

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