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Dr. Doolittle

"Doctor Doolittle" on DVD

A Real Animal Act

This 1967 movie musical, winner of two Academy Awards, is delightful entertainment for the whole family. It isn't as good as some other Big Musicals, but it's certainly better than contemporaries like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

Rex Harrison stars as the title doctor, a renowned veterinarian who quit his day job as a physician to humans because animals are just a lot nicer than humans. Since making that life-changing decision, John Doolittle has studied hard and now can talk to an increasing number of animal species.

What he really wants to do, however, is mount an expedition in search of the legendary Great Pink Sea Snail. To finance the trek, he enlists the help of an exotic, two headed Pushmi-Pullyu, whose dancing abilities help make it the star circus attraction.

Despite run ins with the law and with other humans, Dr. Doolittle manages to launch his expedition and, accompanied by co-stars Anthony Newley, Samantha Eggar, and William Dix (a little kid whose parents don't seem to mind him missing school to gallivant around the world with a man most of human society considers to be a whacko), they encounter strange and marvelous animals and an unknown human society living on a floating island.

There's a lot to like about "Doctor Doolittle," yet somehow it seems to be missing something. Maybe it's pacing, maybe it's Richard Fleischer's direction, but the movie never grabs you and carries you along with it. That's a pity, 'cause the songs are catchy, the performances are good, and the production values and special effects are, for their time, first rate.

And Rex Harrison actually sings, a little!

Most of the singing is done by Anthony Newley, who wrote the songs with Leslie Bricusse, and that's fine; he has a good voice.

The animals are particularly endearing, especially Polynesia, the eloquent parrot who has as large a supporting part as does Eggar.

The DVD has received its due. The anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, picture looks really good, and the Dolby 4.0 surround sound is also a treat if all you've heard from this film is the old VHS release. It's nice to see this minor classic has been done justice by the digital disc medium.

Extras, unfortunately, are limited to the theatrical trailer.

Doctor Doolittle, from 20th Century Fox Home Video
151 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 4.0
Starring Rex Harrison, Anthony Newley, Samantha Eggar, Richard Attenborough, Geoffrey Holder
Produced by Arthur P. Jacobs,
Written by Leslie Bricusse, Directed by Richard Fleischer.


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Updated May 13, 2006