Doctor Dolittle (also known as Dr. Dolittle) is a 1967 American DeLuxe Color musical comedy film 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.
Numerous attempts to adapt the Doctor Dolittle series began as early as the 1920s. In the early 1960s, actress-turned-producer Helen Winston acquired the film rights in an attempt to produce a film adaptation to no success.
In 1963, producer Arthur P. Jacobs subsequently acquired the rights and recruited Alan Jay Lerner to compose the songs and Rex Harrison to star in the project. After numerous delays, Lerner was later fired and replaced by Leslie Bricusse.
The film encountered a more notoriously protracted production with numerous setbacks along the way such as complications from poorly chosen shooting locations, creative demands from Harrison, and the numerous 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 recouped $9 million upon release in 1967, earning only $6.2 million in theatrical rentals and becoming a box office bomb.
The film received mixed to negative critical reviews, but through the studio's intense lobbying, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and won awards for Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects.
In June 1966, principal photography was underway with the village scenes being shot in Castle Combe in Wiltshire.
The producers did not anticipate that the trained animals for the production would be quarantined upon entering the United Kingdom, forcing replacement of the animals at considerable extra expense to meet deadlines. The producers chose to ignore reports of the area's frequently rainy summers, and the resulting weather continually interfered with shooting and caused health problems for the animals.
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