In 1967, Samantha Eggar starred alongside Rex Harrison and Anthony Newley in Doctor Dolittle. The film had a big budget and lots of hype but was hated by critics upon its release and the movie ended up not being the success that the studio had hoped for. To this day some people still don't like the film but over the years many people have discovered the joys of Doctor Dolittle. Some have also discovered that many savage reviews of the film have been quite exaggerated and that the backlash against the movie is unfounded. I've seen Doctor Dolittle several times and I genuinely can't understand why anyone would dislike the film so much.
In Doctor Dolittle, Samantha Eggar portrays Emma Fairfax, the niece of a man who dislikes Dr. Dolittle (Rex Harrison). She initially does not like the animal doctor but eventually gets to know him and falls in love with him (much to the chagrin of Anthony Newley's character Matthew Mugg, who also seemed to be quite found of Emma Fairfax...and was much closer to the same age as her - Rex Harrison was 30 years older than Samantha Eggar).
Samantha Eggar is delightful in Doctor Dolittle. She gets to wear a variety of period costumes and looks lovely throughout. Since Doctor Dolittle is a musical, Samantha Eggar is given the opportunity to perform three songs and she does quite well with the material.
Sadly, however, her role in Doctor Dolittle probably had something to do with the premature decline of Samantha Eggar's career. In the mid-1960s, she was a rising star, poised for greatness especially after her Oscar nomination and Golden Globe win for her work in the 1965 film The Collector. Doctor Dolittle was supposed to be a big movie and Samantha Eggar had won the role over other actresses. When the film flopped at the box office, however, it seems that her stature in Hollywood declined and never fully recovered. She worked steadily afterwards but with more and more focus on B movies and television work. If Doctor Dolittle had been better received, it would have been interesting to see how Samantha Eggar's career path would potentially have changed.
Here are some publicity stills of Samantha Eggar for Doctor Dolittle:
|Samantha Eggar and Rex Harrison|
|Samantha Eggar and Rex Harrison again|