Richard Attenborough did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning the Golden Globe, for portraying Albert Blossom in Doctor Dolittle.
Well one must give credit to the HFPA when it came to recognizing Richard Attenborough as they gave him back to back wins while the academy chose to ignore him both times. What is particularly egregious about this is that his wins account for two of the seven times that the winner in supporting actor was not at least Oscar nominated for their work. What ever was the Academy's problem with Attenborough's acting? This is only made more criminal because the academy bothered to show they had no shame in nominating Doctor Dolittle for several other awards including best picture which many say was due to a some very intense campaigning on part of the studio to try to earn the film some commercial success. This means the academy did not mind saying it was one of the best pictures of the year but could not be bothered to recognize the one major part of the film that deserved to be recognized.
Anyway Attenborough plays Albert Blossom a circus owner that Doctor Dolittle takes a two headed llama type creature to. Attenborough enjoyably scoffs at the prospect at something he hasn't seen before until he finally see the creature and what follows is the only musical number that works in the film. Attenborough leads the song as he portrays an absolute amazement in Blossom at this creature. Attenborough is a unbounded ball of energy here as moves about the screen in portraying the rather extreme excitement Blossom feels at this new discovery. Attenborough is so thoroughly charming in his portrayal of this frantic reaction that he manages to suddenly energizes the picture, which had been sorely lacking up until this point. He makes Blossom such a delightful soul to watch as he first negotiates then proceeds to greatly profit off of his deal with Dolittle.
This is a musical and technically almost the entirety of his performance is singing and dancing. Well Attenborough obviously is not the greatest singer or dancer but this is case where his tremendous acting ability actually manages to completely make up for that. The way he hops up and down and around in every scene is just marvelous to watch and is so fitting to the character of Blossom. This only continues with his singing of the song "I've never seen anything like it". I don't know if the song is, as written, even necessarily better than the other songs in the film but rather it seems to come to life by the completely wonderful way Attenborough sings it. He having so much fun with the way he shows basically the revelatory way Blossom has seen everything in a new light that it's hard not to have the fun right along with him. Almost every second of the song is pure joy because of Attenborough.
Of course then something odd happens. The film keeps on going and when I first watched it I kept wondering when Blossom was going to show up again. Of course he never does and the rest of the film is just one big let down after the pure jubilation felt with Attenborough's number. I don't know if the song was meant to be a showstopper but, by George, Attenborough makes it one. It's funny to note that the next time that Attenborough would be working with Dolittle's director Richard Fleishcer, who must be one of the most inconsistent directors of all time, would be in 10 Rillington Place. Actually I have to say it almost seems as though Attenborough may have brought out the best out of Fleishcer. Attenborough unfortunately is a one scene wonder, frankly the film should have been about Blossom, but what a one scene wonder he is. Although it's very easy to forget the rest of the boring musical I'll actually come back to the film just to watch Attenborough's scene again.