Rex Harrison, physically, is not at all the rotund original from Hugh Lofting’s stories; but histrionically, he’s perfect. Gentle and loving with animals, patient and kind with obtuse and very young friends, he can become a veritable holocaust when confronted with cruel and uncomprehending adults who threaten his animal world.
Leslie Bricusse’s adaptation retains the delightful aspects while taking considerable liberty with the plot. His music and lyrics, while containing no smash hits, are admirably suited to the scenario.
Outstanding, considering his brief appearance, is Richard Attenborough as Albert Blossom, the circus owner. He comes on so strong in his one song-and-dance bit that it’s nearly a perfect example of why important cameo roles should be turned over to important talents.
Most of the $16 million budget evidently went into the production and it shows.
1967: Best Song (‘Talk to the Animals’), Special Visual Effects.
Nominations: Best Picture, Cinematography, Art Direction, Editing, Original Music Score, Adapted Music Score, Sound