US movie (1967). Apjac/20th Century-Fox. Pr Arthur P Jacobs. Dir Richard Fleischer. Spfx L B Abbott, Art Cruickshank, Emil Kosa Jr, Howard Lydecker. Screenplay and songs Leslie Bricusse. Based on the Doctor Dolittle series by Hugh Lofting, mainly The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (1922). Starring Richard Attenborough (Albert Blossom), William Dix (Tommy Stubbins), Samantha Eggar (Emma Fairfax), Rex Harrison (Dr John Dolittle), Geoffrey Holder (William Shakespeare X), Anthony Newley (Matthew Mugg). 152 mins. Colour.
Puddleby-on-the-Marsh, England, 1845. Young Tommy Stubbins meets Dr Dolittle who, unhappy dealing with people, has for years consorted largely with animals, whose languages he speaks. Escaping committal to Bedlam, Dolittle goes with Stubbins and friends Mugg and Fairfax on a Fantastic Voyage in Quest of the Great Pink Sea Snail, which they discover has been living beneath the Floating Island. Dolittle stays behind as the other three sail home aboard the gastropod; he follows astride the Giant Lunar Moth on hearing that all England's animals have gone on strike to have his sentence quashed. This hugely expensive musical was a disaster in every way, but is of some interest in its philistine portrayal of Dolittle as a social inadequate rather than a brave zoological/ linguistic pioneer. [JG]