DOCTOR DOLITTLE - THE 1967 MUSICAL
Posted on Apr 19 2010 by Greg
The kids were very young when they first saw the original 1967 musical version of Doctor Dolittle
so we watched it yesterday and it was nice to revisit again.
Not to be confused with the Eddie Murphy
comedy, which apparently took the premise of Hugh Lofting's classic children's books and left the remainder behind, this Rex Harrison
film was adapted directly from the books by the composer/lyricist Leslie Bricusse
(Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
) and produced on a very grand scale. Costarring Anthony Newley
and Samantha Eggar
("my eyes are green, my hair is auburn and my dress is vivid red"), the epic spectacular was filmed on numerous breathtaking locations, including Tobago for the last sequence, and featured a score that yielded the Oscar winning "Talk to the Animals." An Oscar also was given for special effects, which were impressive in their pre-CG day. It was even nominated for best picture.
Also of note is Sir Richard "Jurassic" Attenborough
(with Wizard of Oz-like putty nose) as the circus owner in a very elaborate musical number that included Disney entertainment executive Gene Columbus
in the cast. Oh, and in case Samantha Eggar's singing sounds like Charlie Bucket's mom, it's because that's Diana Lee
What I remember is that the music from Doctor Dolittle
was recorded by numerous artists in the late '60s, from Sammy Davis, Jr.
and Bobby Darin
to Alvin and the Chipmunks
. The problem was that, while Fox was clearly expecting a Mary Poppins/Sound of Music
did little at the box office largely because audiences were tiring of three-hour musical extravaganzas, Hollywood movies were getting gritier and popular music was getting groovier. Still, taken on its own, this lavish experience stands up very well today as Disneyesque family fun.
And let's not forget that our gal Ginny Tyler was the voice of Polynesia the parrot (wow, her makeup made her look just like a real bird!) and the incomparable Dal McKennon claimed to have been most of the other animal sounds. Knowing Dal, he could have been appearing on-screen as some of the animals as well, and no one would have known the difference... but I digress.