Wednesday, 14 November 2012

doctor dolittle (1967) - richard fleischer

By Jove, this took me back!
I haven't seen Doctor Dolittle for donkeys years, and have probably only seen it twice in my whole life, but l was really surprised at how much of it l remembered.  Yes, of course it goes on for too long, the story is pretty much non existent  and some of the 'animals' (such as the fox) have to be seen to be believed, but it is still an enjoyable escape from everyday reality.
Based on the Hugh Lofting books, this stars Rex Harrison as the Doctor, and the mad Irish accented Anthony Newley as his pal Mathew Mugg.  Everybody knows the basic tale - thanks to Polynesia the parrot, he can talk (and walk and squawk) with the animals. Remember the Doctor's first name?  Of course you don't - it's John.
That's about it really, sure the film looks great, there's a bit of a love story, incarceration (twice), a shipwreck and a floating island,  The Great Pink Sea Snail and young Tommy Stubbins tagging along just to annoy me. But the plot is irrelevant, it's the animals and song performances that make it, even with the crappy ballads.
I nearly forgot - there's also a great cameo by Dear old Dickie (Richard Attenborough) himself, as circus owner Albert Blossom, which just about steals the show, but l can't find a YouTube clip.
As far as l'm concerned, you can take your Eddie Murphy remake and shove it where the sun don't shine, even if the original movie was a commercial failure.

As a side note, Portia Nelson, who plays the Doctor's sister, wrote the book called 'There's a Hole in my Sidewalk -  The Romance of Self-discovery' which contains the poem 'Autobiography in Five Short Chapters', often used by self help gurus, AA meetings, and motivational speakers (who probably saw the poster for it in 'Good Will Hunting'.

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost ... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place. But it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in ... it's a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down another street.

Another side note.
The Puddleby-on the Marsh scenes were shot at Castle Combe, as was War Horse (amongst others).  A place l'd like to visit when l eventually get down (like James Brown) to the Devon and Cornwall areas (even if it is in Wiltshire).

toodle pip

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