Bly-ray Review: DOCTOR DOLITTLE (1967)

DOCTOR DOLITTLE was directed by Richard Fleischer from a screenplay by Leslie Bricusse and stars Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley, Richard Attenborough, Peter Bull and Geoffrey Holder. The score is by Leslie Bricusse (song score), Lionel Newman and Alexander Courage (conducting/arrangements).

The great Leslie Bricusse brings us this musical adaptation of Hugh Lofting’s delightful series of children’s books, Doctor Dolittle (1967), with Rex Harrison starring as the eponymous fellow who famously has the ability to “talk to the animals.” Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley, and Richard Attenborough co-star; Richard Fleischer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) directs; but the real fascinators here are the animals, some real, some fantastical.

The movie takes place in early Victorian England and follows John Dolittle (Rex Harrison), this oddball carnival doctor who has the ability to communicate with his animal patients. He doesn’t do well around humans but he’s great with the animals. As the movie plays out, he sets out on a new adventure and ends up getting some unwanted attention from some people who end up questioning his sanity. He ultimately finds a way out of this uncomfortable predicament and continues to move forward on his exciting adventure of discovery. During his exciting quest he also meets his first love interest but in the end he picks the animals over her. Well kind of.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Doctor Dolittle by Julie Kirgo and more original artwork on the front and back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio. This is an impressive high-def upgrade by the Twilight Time gang.

Bottom line is, I had watched the 1998 loose remake of Doctor Dolittle (Dr. Dolittle) but this 1967 original was the first time that I had seen it and even though they’re really two completely different kind of movies (except for the talking animals), I really enjoyed it. The remake is a full blown comedy while the original is more of a musical fantasy that includes a little humor. The story is about this eccentric doctor who can communicate with animals. He’d also rather keep company with his animal friends more than humans. Rex Harrison and his supporting cast did a really good job with their characters as well as the animals which were a mixture of living creatures and practical effects creations. Richard Fleischer’s movies included everything from horror to action to musicals and he cranked out some real classics during his impressive career. This entertaining oddball of his is packed with catchy melodies that are complimented by a grand imagination and to me the only flaw is it’s lengthy runtime. Doctor Dolittle is now available on Blu-ray and has a limited edition run of just 3,000 units.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 151 Minutes

Rated: G

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition widescreen (2.20:1) / Color / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include Twilight Time’s trademark isolated music track, some audio commentary, a featurette about Rex Harrison and the original theatrical trailer.

  • Isolated Music Track
  • Audio Commentary with Songwriter-Screenwriter Leslie Bricusse and Film Music Historian Mike Matessino
  • Rex Harrison: The Man Who Would Be King (44:10)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (01:38)

 

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