Big-Screen House Call

Big-Screen House Call

Posted by Mike Finnegan on Mar 1st 2018

Fifty years ago, the lavish family musical Doctor Dolittle (1967), starring Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley and Richard Attenborough, had accumulated a healthy nine nominations for the 40th Annual Academy Awards® slated to take place the following month, its tally only bested by the 10 nods bestowed on fellow contender – and fellow Twilight Time hi-def Blu-ray title – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. On Oscar® night, the Todd-AO-filmed roadshow extravaganza would take home two trophies, for Best Visual Effects and Best Song, the whimsical Talk to the Animals, with music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Deeply entrenched in London working on the score for his next screen musical Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Bricusse didn’t attend the ceremony, so his friend Sammy Davis Jr., who crooned the nominated tune on the telecast, accepted Bricusse’s honor in his place. However, one event the still hard-charging 87-year-old songwriter will attend is the U.S. theatrical premiere screening of Twentieth Century Fox’s new 4K DCP – from its original 65mm elements – of Doctor Dolittle this Saturday March 3 at the American Cinematheque’s Aero Theater in Santa Monica, CA, at 3 PM. The accomplished veteran of Broadway, TV and film (who’d go on to win a second Oscar® 15 years later partnering with Henry Mancini on the song score of 1982’s Victor Victoria) will be joined by Doctor Dolittle leading lady Eggar for a Q&A session following the movie, and both will perhaps relate additional stories about the film beyond those Bricusse shared with TT’s Mike Matessino on the wonderful Audio Commentary of TT’s Blu-ray, which is derived from Fox’s immaculate, eye-popping 50th-anniversary restoration. It turns out the animal-conversant veterinarian is still on Bricusse’s mind, since a new British stage production of the material is in the works. It also turns out that this coming Monday March 5 is a birthday shared by late, great leading man Harrison (1908-1990) and the lovely Eggar, who turns 79 years young. Those in the Southern California area are welcome to drop by with birthday greetings in person. Faraway fans can send the good Doctor and Emma Fairfax birthday tributes in the animal lingo of their choice.