Thursday, 23 October 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1967: Richard Attenborough in Doctor Dolittle

Richard Attenborough did not receive an Oscar nomination, despite winning the Golden Globe, for portraying Albert Blossom in Doctor Dolittle.

Doctor Dolittle is an overlong and often dull musical about a veterinarian (Rex Harrison) who can talk to the animals. Also there's not nearly enough Albert Blossom in it.

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.

30 comments:

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

1. Bates
2. Arkin
3. Stamp
4. Attenborough
5. Finch

Michael McCarthy said...

1. Alan Arkin
2. Alan Bates
3. Terence Stamp
4. Richard Attenborough
5. Peter Finch

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Also it is rather strange that the Globes loved Attenborough so much whereas the Academy seemed to have some sort of beef with him, I've always thought his directing win was a sort of sheepish apology on behalf of the Academy.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Time to rethink

1. Bates
2. Stamp
3. Attenborough
4. Finch
5. Arkin

RatedRStar said...

I am so excited for Bates, Stamp and Finch =D, I hope, you do them last
to give off the excitement, Alan Arkin was actually chilling but theres not enough depth to take him above the others.

1. Bates
2. Stamp
3. Finch
4. Attenborough
5. Arkin

luke higham said...

1. Bates
2. Stamp
3. Attenborough
4. Finch
5. Arkin

Kevin said...

Bates
Stamp
Attenborough
Finch
Arkin

Michael Patison said...

I realized I don't think I ever made predictions:
1. Alan Bates
2. Terence Stamp
3. Richard Attenborough
4. Peter Finch
5. Alan Arkin

Michael Patison said...

Louis, what's your rating and thoughts on Poitier in To Sir, with Love?

Louis Morgan said...

Michael: I gave my thoughts on him in the nominees post for lead.

JackiBoyz said...

1. Bates
2. Stamp
3. Attenborough
4. Arkin
5. Finch

Michael Patison said...

Darn, I thought I had looked at every page it might have been on but forgot about the original list. Thanks!

luke higham said...

Louis: What are your ten least favourite animated & horror films. If your able to come up with ten, can I have your thoughts on all of them for the former.

Louis Morgan said...

Horror:

My tendency to avoid films that are commonly known as having no redeeming qualities makes these lists not quite as filled with badness as they could be otherwise.

1. Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child
2. Jason Goes to Hell
3. Robot Monster
4. Jason X
5. Friday the 13th Jason Lives
6. Alien Vs. Predator
7. Halloween 2
8. The Haunting (90's version)
9. The Ghoul
10. Freddy's Dead

(Plan 9 is too enjoyable to be included on this list)

Animated:

1. Eight Crazy Nights - (All that you don't like about Adam Sandler movies in animated form. The animation is kinda odd in that it technically goes for too much realism while having attempts at cartoony action. Of course its filled with lowest common denominator jokes, which be fine if they were funny, they are not. Adam Sandler also proves himself no Mel Blanc with his obnoxious vocal performances in the film. It's all made worse by its attempts at heart which are always very poorly done)

2. Christmas Carol: The Movie - (No not the Zemeckis one. This one is where Scrooge is accompanied by two mice for no reasons on his journey. His journey is made pointlessly random with some ill-fitting songs thrown in and the animation kinda conking out with the last ghost. It successfully ruins a great story as well as wastes its oddly all-star cast that includes Kate Winslet and Nicolas Cage)

3. Shark Tale - (I feel this is the perfect amalgamation of a bad high budget animated film with its lame story, and use of celebrity voices which make for some truly unappealing character designs)

4. The Pagemaster - (I'll admit I have not seen this since it came out, but I do remember it being rather bad)

5. Thumbelina - (Oh Don Bluth your first film was so good, what happened? Well Thumbelina happened where Bluth's style is so low key that it is sleep inducing)

6. Rockadoodle - (Bluth again although here's his problem is just throwing everything at the screen in one prolonged and quite irritating action scene. Also it has some terrible songs for good measure. My "favorite" being the one where the owls singing about how much they hate the sun)

7. We're Back a Dinosaur Tale - (Well it's no Land Before Time I'm just putting that out there)

8. The Swan Princess - (A painfully obvious attempt to cash in on Disney's success at the time. It's like those films, well a very bland version of them anyway)

9. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within - (When I think Final Fantasy the first thing I want to see its lots of boring exposition as much boring exposition as you can get. But hey you can have some boring characters, and boring visuals, did I mention that this was boring?)

10. The Simpsons Movie - (Some claimed when it came out that it was a return to form for the Simpsons well I beg to differ. Although the animation is technically more refined they managed to suck all the life out of it when doing this. It has all the same problems as post season tenish Simpsons has. All the characters are made cardboard cut outs or they are made to be absolute jerks, it has a lot more egregiously stupid humor, oh and the biggest problem is it's not funny. I only laughed once during the entire film and I'm guessing that might have been an ad-lib by Albert Brooks)

Matt Mustin said...

I like The Simpsons movie. What was the one laugh you got? (although I think I know what it is)

luke higham said...

Louis: Are there any other performances from Richard Attenborough, that you'll consider reviewing.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I guess you haven't seen Chicken Little, huh?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Also, I swear, Final Fantasy the movie is NOTHING like the games. Well, at least the older ones. The newer ones seem to be taking disturbing amounts of notes from it.

Louis Morgan said...

Matt: The line about going mad without power.

Luke:

Attenborough still has several performances in the running.

Robert:

No I have not.

RatedRStar said...

Louis do you like The Secret of NIMH =), because I would say that it is by far and away the most underrated animated gem.

Louis Morgan said...

It's actually my favorite animated film.

Michael McCarthy said...

I remember really enjoying the Simpsons Movie....but I think if any adult's animated show deserves a feature film, it's Archer.

Louis, have you seen The Dock Brief from 1962? I know it's gonna be a packed year, but I think you should give Attenborough consideration for that performance, it's a very off-beat and interesting semi-comedic role. Peter Sellers does a good job too.

Also I'm gonna do a crazy prediction change:

1. Alan Arkin
2. Terence Stamp
3. Peter Finch
4. Richard Attenborough
5. Alan Bates

luke higham said...

I Hope Mason & Courtenay get reviewed for Lolita and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner respectively.

Also Louis, I would suggest Attenborough for The Flight of the Phoenix when it comes to 65 supporting, even though that year's packed too.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I'd consider him for 1977 Supporting for The Chess Players, though he's not the standout; Amjad Khan is.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

Actually, I'll change my predictions one last time:

1. Bates
2. Stamp
3. Arkin
4. Attenborough
5. Finch

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Louis, what do you consider some of the worst film of all time? And I don't mean The Room or Street Fighter. I mean, anything that you've found to be incompetent, offensive, boring, or all three.

mcofra7 said...

1. Arkin
2. Stamp
3. Finch
4. Attenborough
5. Bates

Louis Morgan said...

Robert:

The top three listed in horror.
Gerry
Captain America (1990)
Staying Alive
The Musketeer
The Adventures of Pluto Nash
Mortal Kombat Annihilation
Rocky V

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

You sat through Gerry?

Louis Morgan said...

I happened to be in the room while someone else was watching it.