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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Doctor Dolittle (1967)

This perfectly charming musical, directed by Richard Fleischer, has an inexplicably bad reputation. It was poorly reviewed and was a box office flop. Certainly it’s no SINGIN' IN THE RAIN or GIGI or even a CHICAGO but it’s got a first rate tuneful Leslie Bricusse score and there’s a unforced sweetness about the whole thing, not at all cloying. Dr. Dolittle (Rex Harrison who plays him like a second cousin to Henry Higgins) is an animal doctor in a small English village in the late 19th century who talks to animals. But in his case, he speaks their language and they talk to him. The special effects are a bit crude by today’s standards but that only adds to the charm of the film. Future film director Herbert Ross (STEEL MAGNOLIAS) staged the musical numbers and the impressive Oscar nominated art direction is by Mario Chiari, Ed Graves and Jack Martin Smith. With Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley, Richard Attenborough, Norma Varden, Peter Bull and Charlie Dix.

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