Doctor Dolittle is a wonderful film, very entertaining and very underrated. It's a simple story about the doctor trekking off in quest of the Giant Pink Sea Snail...after he deals with a number of smaller tasks at home. Anthony Newley portrays Dolittle's friend, Matthew, who decides to join Dolittle on his quest along with his little pal Tommy ( William Dix ). Samantha Eggar tags along as well, not having anything better to do.
After her abrupt dismissal, Dolittle went about making a few changes to make his cottage more comfortable..namely, cluttering the place up. Nothing like a good mess to give a home the nesting feel!
|In the pre-veternarian days, Dolittle had a clean desk.|
One of these changes was making the house more accessible for his patients. The double row of stairs would never do for cows, horses and such, especially injured ones, and so, a ramp was installed leading down into the living room.
Paintings of Grecian goddesses were replaced with practical drawings of animal anatomy and bird plummage and every little empty nook and cranny was converted into a home for a stray animal. Even a ladder was built along the stair rail to assist the birds in climbing to the upper chambers.
which includes a mother fox and her cubs; and helping a clumsy mouse who continually gets his tail bent in a trap. Dolittle devised a particularly clever machine to straighten mice tails.
|Look at the fabulous stationary set!|
Jack Martin Smith's work dates back to the early days of Hollywood, and it was his sketches of Emerald City that were used in the final sets for The Wizard of Oz.
|The nook looking like an ark.|
What is most impressive is the sheer amount of detail that can be seen in each of the sets. The pictures on the wall, the loose feathers in the corners, the bric-a-brac of a doctor of the mid-1800s, the worn look of the furniture, etc. These small details can all be attributed to the keen and artistic eyes of the set decoraters, Stuart A. Reiss, and Walter M. Scott.
|The nook before the animals moved in.|
|The door to Dolittle's bedroom. The linen closet is to the left.|
At the head of the stairway situated in the living room is the bedroom where Dr. Dolittle sleeps. It is not much bigger than an attic storage room, but that has no effect on Dolittle. In this scene he is dreaming of what he could accomplish once he acquires the skill of talking with animals.
The set design for the interior of Doctor Dolittle's house is similar in style to those used for the homes of Professor Lindenbrook in Journey to the Center of the Earth ( 1959 ), and George Wells in The Time Machine ( 1960 ); each of them featuring a rustic and strongly masculine style of decoration.
The outside of Dolittle's cottage features typical Cotswold architecture, with its stone and stucco walls and fairy-tale style sloping roofs. One wonders how the grass was cut in the mid-1800s. Whatever method other people employed, Dolittle probably took a shortcut and talked some of the local cows into chewing his grass down to a manageable height.
Even though he was considered a "quack" in the village, we really envy the doctor's lifestyle and especially his home. As Mr. Blossom so aptly put it, "I've never seen anything like it in my life!".