1969 January to March

1st January – continuing – CINDERELLA

5th January – PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE

on the screen – for ONE day – THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE – GAUMONT – an Italian horror 1960 film originally titled “L’ultima preda del vampiro, lit”. {‘The Vampire’s Last Victim’) directed and written by Piero Regnoli. A feckless troupe of European exotic dancers and their piano player led by a bumbling manager stumble upon a castle after encountering a ferocious storm. The castle, inhabited by Count Gabor, his assistant and a vampire, is little refuge for the traveling showgirls as they slowly fall under the spell of the un-dead demon. Vera, one of the reluctant dancers and the living doppelgänger of the vampire’s dead wife, Margherita Kernassy—who has been dead nearly 200 years—becomes the object of affection for both Count Gabor and the vampire.

Watch the trailer

In support, SEDDOK (SON OF SATAN) – (Italian: Seddok, l’erede di Satana) is a 1960 Italian horror film directed by Anton Giulio Majano. Shot in black-and-white, the film was produced by Elio Ippolito Mellino and stars Alberto Lupo, Susanne Loret, and Sergio Fantoni.

12th January – CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER

On the screen – for seven days – CARRY ON UP THE KHYBER – a 1968 British comedy film from Rank and the 16th in the series. It stars Carry On regulars Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims, Bernard Bresslaw and Peter Butterworth. It is the final of two Carry On film appearances by Wanda Ventham and Roy Castle makes his only Carry On appearance in the romantic male lead part usually played by Jim Dale. Angela Douglas makes her fourth and final appearance in the series. Terry Scott returned to the series after his minor role in the first film of the series, Carry On Sergeant a decade earlier. The film is, in part, a spoof of Kiplingesque movies and television series about life in the British Raj, both contemporary and from earlier, Hollywood, periods. The title is a play on words in the risqué Carry On tradition, with “Khyber” (short for “Khyber Pass”) being rhyming slang for “arse”. The film became the second most popular movie at the UK box office in 1969

The trailer

The support was KING KONG ESCAPES, a 1967 Japanese-American science-fiction kaiju film featuring King Kong, co-produced by Toho and Rankin/Bass. The film was directed by Ishirō Honda with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and stars Rhodes Reason, Linda Jo Miller, Akira Takarada, Mie Hama, Eisei Amamoto, with Haruo Nakajima as King Kong and Yū Sekida as Mechani-Kong and Gorosaurus

19th January – LADY IN CEMENT

On the screen – for six days (Not 22nd) – LADY IN CEMENT – a 1968 20th Century Fox American neo-noirdetective film, directed by Gordon Douglas and starring Frank Sinatra, Raquel Welch, Dan Blocker, Martin Gabel and Richard Conte. A sequel to the 1967 film Tony Rome, and based on the novel by Marvin H. Albert, private investigator Tony Rome (Frank Sinatra) discovers a dead woman, her feet encased in cement, at the bottom of the ocean.

Rome reports this to Lieutenant Dave Santini (Richard Conte) and thinks nothing more of the incident, until Waldo Gronski (Dan Blocker) hires him to find a missing woman, Sandra Lomax. Gronski has little in the way of affluence, so he allows Rome to pawn his watch to retain his services. After investigating the local hotspots and picking up on a few names, Rome soon comes across Kit Forrester (Raquel Welch), whose party Sandra Lomax was supposed to have attended. Rome’s talking to Forrester raises the ire of racketeer Al Mungar (Martin Gabel), a supposedly reformed gangster who looks after Kit’s interests. Thinking there may be a connection between Lomax, Forrester and Mungar, Rome starts probing into their backgrounds and begins a romantic relationship with Kit. With both cops and crooks chasing him and the omnipresent Gronski breathing down his neck, Rome finds himself deep in a case which provides few answers.

Here’s the trailer

The support was SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN WIFE, a 1968 comedy film written and directed by George Axelrod. The film was released by 20th Century Fox and was considered a box-office failure, hence becoming a second feature in the UK. It features a music score by Billy May. Edy Williams has a supporting role in the film as the Laytons’ blonde bombshell neighbour.

22nd January – HENRY V

On the screen – for one day only – HENRY V – (Separate Performances) – is a 1944 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play of the same name. The on-screen title is The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France (derived from the title of the 1600 quarto edition of the play, though changing the spelling from “Agin Court”). It stars Laurence Olivier, who also directed. The play was adapted for the screen by Olivier, Dallas Bower, and Alan Dent. The score is by William Walton. The film was made near the end of World War II and was intended as a morale booster for Britain. Consequently, it was partly funded by the British government. The film was originally “dedicated to the ‘Commandos and Airborne Troops of Great Britain the spirit of whose ancestors it has been humbly attempted to recapture.’” The film won Olivier an Academy Honorary Award for “his Outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director in bringing Henry V to the screen.”

The trailer for this re-issue

26th January – SOME GIRLS DO

On the screen – for seven days – SOME GIRLS DO – is a 1969 British comedy spy film directed by Ralph Thomas and released by Rank. It was the second of the revamped Bulldog Drummond films (following 1967’s Deadlier Than the Male) starring Richard Johnson as Drummond, made following the success of the James Bond films of the 1960s.

A series of inexplicable accidents befall the development of the world’s first supersonic airliner, the SST1 – a man falls victim to a homicidal air stewardess (an uncredited Maria Aitken) and two women (Yutte Stensgaard and an uncredited Joanna Lumley) perform separate acts of sabotage during tests. The Air Ministry calls on Hugh “Bulldog” Drummond (Richard Johnson) to investigate.

Aided by ditzy American blonde Flicky (Sydne Rome), Drummond uncovers a plot by criminal mastermind Carl Petersen (James Villiers), who stands to gain eight million pounds if the aircraft is not ready by a certain date. Petersen, assisted by beautiful but deadly assassins Helga (Daliah Lavi) and Pandora (Beba Lončar), has developed a number of robots: beautiful girls with electronic brains to help him sabotage the SST1 project by means of infrasound (sound waves with too low frequency to be detected by the human ear) which can be directed at people or objects with devastating results.

After the initial sabotage attacks by Peterson’s robots, Helga and Pandora begin systematically murdering various people associated with the SSTI, such as engineer Dudley Mortimer (Maurice Denham) and Miss Mary (Robert Morley), a spy who runs a cooking class as a front for his activities. Helga makes contact with Drummond at a shooting party, and attempts to kill him by planting a bomb in his telephone after sleeping with him. Then Helga and Pandora try to kill Drummond again by sabotaging a glider fight, having cut the ripcord from his parachute. Drummond manages to manually open his parachute and escape death. The trail leads Drummond to North Africa, following up on a lead on an infrasound-powered powerboat, where he is assisted by Peregrine Carruthers (Ronnie Stevens) from the British Embassy. Pandora kills the boat owner with a miniature infrasound device, but is thwarted in her attempt to steal the boat. Drummond and Peregrine decide to drive the powerboat in a scheduled race: Helga and Pandora also participate in the race and successfully capture the men and the boat, delivering them all to Petersen at his island headquarters, staffed by an army of his female robots, including the defective but endearing No. 7 (Vanessa Howard). Drummond and Peregrine are also reunited with Flicky, who has successfully infiltrated Petersen’s organisation.

Over dinner, Petersen reveals the full details of his plan to use infrasound technology to sabotage the SST1’s maiden flight. That night, Drummond sleeps with Helga once more, while Pandora contents herself with seducing Peregrine. In the morning, Drummond attempts to retrieve the infrasound powerboat and is met by Flicky, who tells him she is actually a CIA agent assigned to help him. They are caught by Helga – Drummond escapes but Helga holds Flicky at gunpoint. Petersen sends his robots to search the island for the runaway agent – Drummond is cornered by No. 7, but to his surprise, she deliberately chooses not to reveal his location. Peregrine and Flicky are held hostage in Petersen’s control room and are forced to witness the SST1’s destruction as he puts his plan into action. Drummond scales the wall of Petersen’s hideout, and saves the SST1 from destruction by using Petersen’s infrasound waves against him, destroying his control room. Petersen, Pandora and Helga are all apparently killed in the explosion. Drummond, Flicky, Peregrine and No. 7 escape the subsequent mayhem, having retrieved the infrasound device. Flicky reveals herself to be a double agent working for the Russians and escapes on the powerboat with the device. Peregrine, wanting to improve his Russian relations, decides to go with her. As the base finally explodes, Drummond finds comfort in the arms of the beautiful No. 7.

Watch the trailer

The supporting programme included the docu-travelogue THE ROAD TO CORINTHIA.

2nd February – PLAY DIRTY

On the screen – for seven days – PLAY DIRTY – a 1969 British war film from United Artists – starring Michael Caine, Nigel Davenport, Nigel Green and Harry Andrews. It was director Andre DeToth’s last film, based on a screenplay by Melvyn Bragg and Lotte Colin. The film’s story is inspired by the exploits of units such as the Long Range Desert Group, Popski’s Private Army and the SAS in North Africa during the Second World War.

The film was originally planned by Saltzman to be filmed in Israel. Saltzman asked Andre DeToth to scout the country for locations. De Toth said Clément wanted to film in Morocco or Algeria, but Saltzman refused to go to North Africa, and Clément refused to go to Israel. The film ended up being shot on location near Tabernas in Almería, Spain. Richard Harris left his home in London for Spain on 16 February 1968. He said he was handed a script which was different from the one he had agreed to do when he signed on. He quit the film and sued the producers for payment of his salary, which was a reported £150,000.

After Nigel Davenport replaced Harris, and Nigel Green replaced Davenport, René Clément resigned as director, and executive producer André DeToth took over directing the film. DeToth said Clément “wanted to make a ‘poetry of war'” while Saltzman “wanted blazing guns and roaring tanks”. Several other films were shooting in Almería at the same time, including Shalako. Caine later said, “There are six sand dunes in Almeria… We’d all come round the hill chasing Rommel’s tanks – and there’s horse shit all over the desert and a stagecoach in the other directions being chased by Indians. The other film units were forever wiping out tank tracks to get their westerns and we were forever shovelling up horse shit and wiping out hoof prints to get our El Alamein.” Caine later said he had a clause in his contracts that any film on which he worked could not be made in Almería. “It was that bad”. DeToth later said that in making the film, “I wanted to rub our noses in the mess we have created and how we shy away from our ability to clean it up… I wanted to disturb, to open closed eyes and scramble brains.”

A synopsis of the film

There was a SUPPORTING PROGRAMME of short features.

9th February – GENE PITNEY

On the stage – for one night only – GENE PITNEY – an American singer-songwriter, musician, and sound engineer. Pitney scored his first chart single in 1961 with the self-penned “(I Wanna) Love My Life Away,” on which he played several instruments and multi-tracked the vocals. He followed that same year with his first Top 20 single, the title song from the 1961 Kirk Douglas United Artists film Town Without Pity. Written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, the song won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, but lost the award to “Moon River”. Pitney performed the song at the Oscars ceremony on April 9, 1962. Pitney is also remembered for the Burt Bacharach–Hal David song “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance”, which peaked at No. 4 in 1962. Though it shares a title with the John Wayne western, the song was not used in the film because of a publishing dispute. That same year “Only Love Can Break a Heart” became his highest charting song.

Pitney wrote hits for others, including “He’s a Rebel” for the Crystals (later covered by Vikki Carr and Elkie Brooks), “Today’s Teardrops” for Roy Orbison, “Rubber Ball” for Bobby Vee, and “Hello Mary Lou” for Ricky Nelson. The Crystals’ version of “He’s A Rebel” kept Pitney’s own No. 2 hit “Only Love Can Break a Heart,” from the top spot, the only time that a writer shut himself (or herself) out of No. 1. His popularity in the UK market was ensured by the breakthrough success of “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa,” a Bacharach and David song, which peaked at No. 5 in Britain at the start of 1964. It was only Pitney’s third single release in the UK to reach the singles chart, and the first to break into the Top Twenty there; it was also a hit in the US, peaking at No. 17 on the Hot 100. Pitney maintained a successful career in Britain and the rest of Europe into the 1970s, appearing regularly on UK charts.

In this, his first appearance at the Gaumont, (although he had appeared earlier at the ABC in Above Bar) he was supported by MARMALADE, JOE COCKER & THE GREASE BAND, and THE IVEYS.

One of Gene Pitney;s hits

10th February – THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR

On the screen – for SIX days – THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR – is a 1968 American heist film directed and produced by Norman Jewison and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, released by United Artists. It was nominated for two Academy Awards, winning Best Original Song for Michel Legrand’s “The Windmills of Your Mind”.

The photography is unusual for a mainstream Hollywood film, using a split-screen mode. The use of split screens to show simultaneous actions was inspired by the breakthrough Expo 67 films In the Labyrinth and A Place to Stand, the latter of which pioneered the use of Christopher Chapman’s “multi-dynamic image technique”, images shifting on moving panes. Steve McQueen was on hand for an advance screening of A Place to Stand in Hollywood and personally told Chapman he was highly impressed; the following year, Norman Jewison had incorporated the technique into the film, inserting the scenes into the already finished product. McQueen undertook his own stunts, which include playing polo and driving a dune buggy at high speed along the Massachusetts coastline. This was similar to his starring role in the movie Bullitt, released a few months afterwards, in which he drove a Ford Mustang through San Francisco at more than 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). In an interview, McQueen would later say this was his favourite film.

The car driven by Dunaway, referred to as “one of those red Italian things,” is the first of only ten Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyders built. Today, this model is one of the most valuable Ferrari road cars of all time. McQueen liked the car very much, and eventually managed to acquire one for himself. The dune buggy was a Meyers Manx, built in California on a VW beetle floor pan with a hopped-up Chevrolet Corvair engine. McQueen owned one, and the Manx, the original dune buggy, was often copied. Crown’s Rolls Royce carried Massachusetts vanity license tag “TC 100” for the film. Sean Connery had been the original choice for the title role, but turned it down—a decision he later regretted.

The trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbcfsoPcK7w

The supporting feature was SUBMARINE X-1 a 1968 United Artists’ British World War II war film loosely based on the Operation Source attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in 1943. In the film James Caan stars as Lt. Commander Richard Bolton, a Canadian, who must lead a group of midget submarines in an attack on a German battleship.

16th February – COOGAN’S BLUFF

On the screen – for seven days – COOGAN’S BLUFF – a 1968 American action thriller film from Universal, directed by Don Siegel, and starring Clint Eastwood, Lee J. Cobb, Don Stroud and Susan Clark. The film marks the first of five collaborations between Siegel and Eastwood, which continued with Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970), The Beguiled and Dirty Harry (both 1971), and finally Escape from Alcatraz (1979).

Eastwood plays the part of a veteran deputy sheriff from a rural county in Arizona who travels to New York City to extradite an apprehended fugitive named Jimmy Ringerman, played by Stroud, who is wanted for murder. The name of the film itself is a reference to a New York City natural landmark, Coogan’s Bluff, a promontory in upper Manhattan overlooking the site of the former long-time home of the New York Giants baseball club, the Polo Grounds, with a double-meaning derived from the name of the lead character.

Scenes from the film

The supporting feature, THE NIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING DAY, a 1969 American Technicolor crime film directed by Hubert Cornfield starring Marlon Brando, Richard Boone, Rita Moreno and Pamela Franklin. Released by Universal and filmed in France, around Le Touquet, it tells the story of a kidnapped heiress being held hostage in a remote beachhouse on the coast of France.

23rd February – THE HELLFIGHTERS

On the screen – for SIX days (not Weds 26th) = HELLFIGHTERS – a 1968 American action film starring John Wayne and featuring Katharine Ross, Bruce Cabot, Jim Hutton, Jay C. Flippen and Vera Miles. The film, directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, is about a group of oil well firefighters, based loosely on the life of Red Adair. Adair, “Boots” Hansen, and “Coots” Matthews served as technical advisers on the film. Red Adair had been fighting fires since 1946. He was well known in the industry but became more generally known in 1962 after extinguishing a Sahara Desert gas well fire called “the devil’s cigarette lighter”. Clair Huffaker wrote an original script which was bought by Universal in February 1967. Robert Arthur was assigned to produce. John Wayne agreed to star in November 1967. Wayne made the film after The Green Berets. It reteamed him with Andrew McLaglen, with whom Wayne had made McLintock! (1963), and Jim Hutton, who had been in The Green Berets.

This was the first film for which Wayne was paid $1 million. Unlike many of Wayne’s films around this time it was not made for his own company. Much of the filming took place in Houston, Texas and the surrounding area; headquarters for the Red Adair Company, Inc. During filming, a catering truck crashed into Wayne’s trailer while the star was inside. However, he was not injured.

In support was KING’S PIRATE – a 1967 American pirate film directed by Don Weis and starring Doug McClure, Jill St. John and Guy Stockwell. It tells the story of a British naval officer who volunteers for a dangerous mission to infiltrate the base of pirates who threaten shipping off Madagascar and is a remake of the 1952 film Against All Flags.

Watch the oprning of The KIng’s Pirate

26th February – LA SCALA MILAN

On the screen – for one day – LA SCALA – LA BOHEME – 2 Separate Performances – a 1965 West German film co-production with La Scala and Warner Brothers, of the opera of the same name by Puccini, filmed in a Milan studio and recorded at the Munich Opera. The film director and producer and set designer was the Italian director Franco Zeffirelli; Herbert von Karajan conducted the chorus and orchestra of La Scala and was the artistic supervisor. This is not a stage live recording: the singers mime to their own pre-recordings.

Zeffirelli talks La Boheme

2nd March – THE WRECKING CREW

On the screen – for seven days – THE WRECKING CREW – is a 1968 American comedy spy-fi film from Columbia, directed by Phil Karlson and starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm, along with Elke Sommer, Nancy Kwan, Tina Louise, and Sharon Tate. It is the fourth and final film in the Matt Helm series, and is very loosely based upon the 1960 novel of the same name by Donald Hamilton. Chuck Norris makes his film debut in a small role. Hugo Montenegro composed the score and Mack David and Frank DeVol wrote the theme song played over the opening and end credits, “House of Seven Joys”, which was the working title of the film.

Chuck Morris making his film debut

In support was THE BIG GUNDOWN, a Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Sollima, and starring Lee Van Cleef and Tomas Milian.

9th March – BUONA MRS CAMPBELL

On the screen – for seven nights – BUONA SERA MRS CAMPBELLthis 1968 American comedy film starring Gina Lollobrigida, and directed by Melvin Frank, who co-wrote the original screenplay with Denis Norden and Sheldon Keller. The United Artists release was filmed at the Cinecittà Studios in Rome. It served as the basis for the unsuccessful 1979 stage musical Carmelina and the plot of the enormously successful stage musical Mamma Mia! and its 2008 movie adaptation. It tells the story of three U.S. servicemen hold a reunion twenty years after their initial war-time visit at an Italian village. They all have fond memories, especially of local girl Carla. But she has been telling each of them that they are the father of her daughter Gia, so they have all been paying well for her upbringing. As this dawns on the threesome, old rivalries surface, but times have changed and complications such as wives, middle-age, and the need to protect Gia’s future start to surface. A recent relook at this movie prompted a respected film critic to write “One of the best comedies ever made, full of comic details, non-stop hilarity, one of those rare movies that can be seen again and again and it gets better every time.”

The trailer

The supporting film was an abridged version of Death Rides a Horse, a 1967 Italian Spaghetti Western directed by Giulio Petroni and starring John Phillip Law and Lee Van Cleef.

16th March – HANNIBAL BROOKS

On the screen – for six days (not Fri 21st) – a 1969 British-American war comedy film from United Artists and directed by Michael Winner and written by Ian La Frenais and Dick Clement based on a story by Winner and Tom Wright. The film follows a prisoner of war’s attempt to escape from Nazi Germany to Switzerland during World War II, accompanied by an Asian elephant. It stars Oliver Reed, Michael J. Pollard and Wolfgang Preiss. The beginning is based on the experiences of the writer Tom Wright who, while a prisoner of war, worked at Munich Zoo to care for their elephant “Lucy”. It has also been attributed to the true story of Olga the elephant rescued from Vienna Zoo in 1944. The title is a reference to the Carthaginian military commander Hannibal who led an army of elephants over the Alps.

Michael J. Pollard had a drug and alcohol problem at the time. Michael Winner confronted the actor about it and told him that he ought to clean himself up. “Why is it that you keep taking drugs and keep taking pills? There’s no reason for that”. Pollard replied, “You don’t share a hotel with Oliver Reed”. Winner replied, “Michael, you just won the argument”.

Watch the trailer

The programme was completed with what is considered now a classic comedic cult film; THE PARTY, a 1968 American comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and starring Peter Sellers and Claudine Longet. The film has a very loose structure, and essentially serves as a series of set pieces for Sellers’s improvisational comedy talents. The comedy is based on a fish out of water premise, in which a bungling Indian actor accidentally gets invited to a lavish Hollywood dinner party and “makes terrible mistakes based upon ignorance of Western ways”.

21st March – STEVIE WONDER

On the stage – one night only – an eighteen year old Stevie Wonder took to the stage of the Gaumont on his fourth visit to Britain. This was his first Southampton performance but he had previously appeared as a 15 year old Little Stevie Wonder at Portsmouth Guildhall and Bournemouth Winter Gardens Concert Hall.

He’d already had UK chart success with Tamla releases, Uptight (Everything’s Alright), Blowin’ In The Wind, A Place In The Sun, I Was Made To Love Her, I’m Wondering, Shoo Be Doo Be Doo Da Day, For Once In My Life and I Don’t Know Why I Love You. It was on this night at the Gaumont he first performed his next big hit, My Cherie Amour.

For this tour Stevie was supported by two major chart acts; THE FOUNDATIONS, a British soul band, made up of West Indians, White British, and a Sri Lankan, who were the first multi-racial group to have a number one hit in the UK and are best known for their two biggest hits, “Baby Now That I’ve Found You” and “Build Me Up Buttercup”; and THE FLIRTATIONS, who the previous year were reduced to a trio when Betty Pearce left the group and headed for England, where they supported Tom Jones on his European tour. By the time they performed at the Gaumont they had released what would become their signature recording, “Nothing But A Heartache”.

A 1969 performance from Stevie Wonder

23rd March – PRETTY POISON

On the screen – for six days (not Weds) – PRETTY POISON – a psychological thriller/black comedy film directed by Noel Black, starring Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld, about an ex-convict and high school cheerleader who commit a series of crimes. The film was based on the novel She Let Him Continue by Stephen Geller. It has become a cult film.

It was paired with – JOANNA – a 1968 British drama film, directed by Michael Sarne (who had appeared at the Gaumont in the 1962/3 pantomime, Babes In The Wood, as Simple Simon) and set in swinging London. It was listed to compete at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival, but the festival was cancelled due to the riots of the Sorbonne students in Paris which rapidly spread across France.

An excerpt from the film

26th March – JANE EYRE

On the screen – for one day only – JANE EYRE – there were two separate performances at 3.00 and 8.20 with special prices from 6/- to 8/6. This American film adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel of the same name, released by 20th Century Fox. It was directed by Robert Stevenson and produced by Kenneth Macgowan and Orson Welles, both uncredited. The film stars Welles and Joan Fontaine. Elizabeth Taylor made an early, uncredited appearance as Helen Burns. The screenplay was written by John Houseman, Aldous Huxley and director Robert Stevenson. The music score was by Bernard Herrmann and the cinematography by George Barnes.

Aldous Huxley’s contribution to the screenplay rendered the character of Mrs. Rochester unseen—assuring that she would be more menacing, and circumventing British censorship regulations on the depiction of madness.

This one day screening tied in with the year’s ‘O’ level syllabus.

Watch the full movie – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsW3WPamuq8

30th March – DOCTOR DOLITTLE

On the screen for six days (not Good Friday) – A rerun of the film Doctor Dolittle which had played for a season at the sister cinema the Odeon in 1967. An Anglo-American musical directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley and Richard Attenborough. It was adapted by Leslie Bricusse from the novel series by Hugh Lofting. It primarily fuses three of the books The Story of Doctor Dolittle, The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, and Doctor Dolittle’s Circus.

The film had a notoriously protracted production ranging from poorly chosen shooting locations and technical difficulties inherent with the large number of animals required for the story. The film exceeded its original budget of $6 million by three times and was yet another huge loss-maker for 20th Century Fox. Although the film received mixed to negative critical reviews, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and won awards for Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects.

The trailer for the film

It was supported by another revival – THE KING’S BREAKFAST – a 1963 British family film directed by Wendy Toye and starring Maurice Denham, Mischa Auer and Reginald Beckwith. It was based on the poem The King’s Breakfast by A.A. Milne. Pioneering British female film director and choreographer Wendy Toye and satirical cartoonist turned set designer Ronald Searle joined forces with composer Ron Grainer to transform a well known British children’s poem into a hyperactive 28 minute slapstick, ballet and mime featurette impressive enough to be invited for screening at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival and for producer Jack Le Vien to offer Grainger the soundtrack for his prestigious Winston Churchill documentary The Finest Hours (1964).

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