Experience the Musical Menagerie of DOCTOR DOLITTLE with Twilight Time Blu-ray

Rex Harrison’s 1967 Oscar winner is restored for Blu-ray

Dispel all notions of Eddie Murphy bouncing around the screen, physical comedy, and cloying sentimentality. The ’67 version of Doctor Dolittle was a far more charming and whimsical affair. It’s a family friendly classic that garnered much appreciation, with nominations for multiple Academy Awards, winning for Best Song and Special Effects. Now thanks to Twilight Time, you can see a man talk to the animals again in a brand new restoration of the film.


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 tale is one of a famous veterinarian, a man able to “talk to the animals.” Dr. Dolittle, driven by his curiosity to discover and converse with new creatures, leaves behind his home in England to embark on an expedition to find the great pink sea snail. On his travels he visits strange lands and encounters a colorful menagerie of creatures. It’s a fantastical journey, full of strange and enticing sights, beautiful landscapes, and thoroughly charming songs.

This all sounds too good to be true, and the film is crippled by its pace and length. This central arc of searching for a mythical creature should provide the core and thrust of the narrative; instead the film can’t help but stray away from it. Flitting from place to place, creature to creature, song to song. This is all compounded by a runtime that borders on the offensive. It’s a shame because there is plenty to admire here, it’s just lost in the mix. It is often charming, frequently delightful and imaginative, in terms of musical composition and creature design, but the film would have benefited greatly from a sharper focus.

The Package

Having strong recollections of seeing the film as a child, the transfer presented here by Twilight Time is really impressive. Colors pop, detail showcases faces, feathers, and fur. A few scenes have a mild blue tint but overall it’s a warm image with a natural grain. Special features include:

  • Isolated Music Track
  • Audio Commentary with Songwriter/Screenwriter Leslie Bricusse and Film Music Historian Mike Matessino
  • Rex Harrison: The Man Who Would Be King: Running around 45 minutes, it’s a look at the life and career of the actor, pulling from archival footage as well as interviews with friends and family.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Liner booklet: Traditional Twilight Time accompaniment, containing film stills and an essay by film historian Julie Kirgo.

The Bottom Line

Doctor Dolittle challenges the viewer with a lack of focus and lengthy runtime, but buried within is a admirably charming effort, stuffed with music and whimsy. Twilight Time have done a fantastic job with this restoration and release, giving the film a new lease of life.

Doctor Dolittle is available via Twilight Time now, in a limited release of 3,000 units.

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