A classic movie, that is quite faithful to the stories by Hugh Lofting. It goes to show you that Hollywood can make a good movie (or used to be able to). The story is well acted, it was fun to watch this once again after a few decades. I haven't watched the remake of this with Eddie Murphy, but can see myself being disappointed in it due to Hollywood's "remake another classic" mentality.
In the quaint English town of Puddleby-on-the-Marsh circa 1845 successful doctor John Dolittle (Rex Harrison) grows tired of humans and decides to devote his life to treating animals instead. With the help of his verbose 200-year old parrot Polynesia he also learns to converse with them, mastering five hundred animal languages in the process from Anteater to Zebra. With his manor house now resembling Noah’s famous ark and patients flying, crawling, and slithering in to see him on a daily basis, Dolittle still has one more dream to realize—to set out in search of the elusive giant pink sea snail; a mythological mollusk who holds the answers to some of his most burning questions. To this end he joins a travelling circus where his star attraction, a two-headed llama or “pushmi-pullyu”, earns him enough money to buy a small ship for the journey. But his erratic behaviour and claim to speak in animal tongues does not sit well with the local magistrate necessitating a hasty escape from Puddleby with a crew of friends both human and non. And thus begins a high seas adventure replete with giant whales, lost tribes, and one very big bug… Twentieth-Century Fox’s expensive box-office bomb (and highly contentious Oscar nominee for coveted “Best Picture”) still stands head and shoulders above the Eddie Murphy travesties filmed thirty years later. Made before the advent of CGI the scores of animals are mostly real (filming proved to be a nightmare) with the glaring exception of a bizarre animatronic fox that jerks and snaps like a vulpine zombie. The sparkly musical numbers are generally painless, the pleasingly pastoral sets range from English hills to tame jungles, and the few fantastical creature creations are believable enough. Unfortunately a love interest between Harrison and female lead Samantha Eggar, over thirty years his junior, is a stretch and all those adorable cuddly extras threaten to push the cutesy factor past the critical mark. But having first seen it as a child when it premiered I was pleased to discover that I can still smile at a horse with glasses or an ailing elephant sporting a woollen scarf.
One of my favorite movies from childhood.
Won't rate it because I had to stop watching after half an hour. I love Rex Harrison but he could not do anything for this turkey. The cinematography and production design are nice however. But watching this for 2.5 hours would be painful. The songs are no help.
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