Dr. Who Reactions: "Dr.Who and the Daleks" (SPOILERS)

     I'd been meaning to re-watch this picture for quite some time. For those of you who are not familar with it, in 1965, a theatrical film was produced re-making Terry Nation's first Doctor Who serial, "The Daleks".  The plot follows the TV version very closely, so I won't remark on that, except to comment on where it differs from the TV version.


     The film stars Peter Cushing as "Dr. Who" ( he is actually called that here), a brilliant but eccentric scientist.  Cushing plays the part as an amiable old buffer, without any of the tetchiness or occasional borderline viciousness of William Hartnell's first Doctor. There's no indication of him being anything other than a brilliant human scientist. Cushing does quite well in the part. Jennie Linden plays Barbara - here Dr. Who's granddaughter, and somewhat younger than Jackie Hill's Barbara.

     Roy Castle plays Ian, here Barbara's boyfriend, and something of a bumbling "comedy relief" character. He's OK in the part when he's not trying to be funny, but his comedy bits aren't especially funny. Roberta Tovey plays Dr. Who's younger granddaughter, Susan, and she is a good deal younger than Carole Ann Ford was when she played Susan.  All in all, they mesh well together, although since Ian and Barbara are so much younger here, they don't quite have the same "surrogate parents" dynamic that William Russell and Jackie Hill had with Ford.  There certainly isn't as much intra-team conflict as we saw on TV.


Does It Got Any Doctor Who Actors In It?

Geoffrey Toone, who played Temmosus here, would go on to play Hepesh in the Pertwee era's "The Curse of Peladon".


The picture was directed by Gordon Flemyng, who would go on to direct the second Dalek picture, and to have a fairly lengthy career in British TV.


The music is very light and breezy, not much like the music used on TV.


The TARDIS interior is very different, with piles of electronic junk all over, and no console as such.  The dematerialization noise is different as well.


The Daleks are largely the same as seen on TV, although some of them have pincers instead of plungers, and they shoot smoke when they fire at somebody.  It occurs to me that this would've been the first time anyone saw them in color here. It's all very 60's "pop art" - the Daleks even have lava lamps! The film had much better production values than the TV show would have until - well, really until the early Twenty-First Century.


The Thals somehow manage to look even more "fey" than they did on TV - perhaps it's because they're all wearing heavy eye-liner, even the males. It's as though the Daleks were fighting a race of vaguely irritable hairdressers.


No explanation is given as to how our heroes understand the Thals and Daleks, but , hey, the TV show avoided the subject as well.


Plot Differences:

The main plot differences are at the start, where the Doctor invites Ian into the TARDIS to show it off, and Ian accidentally sits on the start lever, and at the end, where they apear to be in Roman times, and Ian does a "comedy panic", which makes me wonder if the reason he wasn't in the second picture is because they ditched him somewhere at the soonest opportunity.



Again, I quite enjoyed this, much more fun than I remembered it being.  Really, I think these pictures don't get near as much mention as they should for their contribution to the Doctor Who mythos.





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DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS was my 2nd exposure to the series... my first being INVASION EARTH: 2150 A.D.  (That's how it was listed in TV GUIDE.)  I think, like a lot of things from the 60's, people's opinions of this have gone up and down (or vice-versa) over the years, depending on how old you are at any given time, when you first saw it, how much nostalgia you have, or your general attitude about "sci-fi" (versus "S.F.!!!!!" --some people take their hobbies way too seriously). A lot of people over the years have been disappointed in this film compared to the TV show (disappointed may be too polite a word, more like "shocked" and "offended").  Myself, I was a bit disappointed compared to the 2ND FILM. Honest, it's like comparing DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, or SHAFT and SHAFT'S BIG SCORE.  In these cases, the sequels are WAY BETTER!!!!

Peter Cushing's long been a favorite actor of mine, and I love what he does in these films.  You kinda have to take it on its own terms.  The funny thing is, especially when you consider his character "Baron Frankenstein", who is such a TOTAL BASTARD sometimes, he could have easily played the Hartnell character.  Instead, he comes off more like the Boris Karloff character in THE BOOGIE MAN WILL GET YOU. He also played-- apparently-- the SAME character in 3 different films from the same studio (Amicus), the 3rd being AT THE EARTH'S CORE, where "Dr. Who" became "Abner Perry".  (And Doug McClure was a lot more heroic than Roy Castle.)

I would like to point up one detail a lot of people get wrong.  Ian did NOT sit on that control by accident.  Barbara PUSHED him backwards onto it.  If it's anybody's fault, it's that blonde bimbo's! It's a toss-up who's the dumbest one in the film, "Ian" or "Barbara".  I've seen Jennie Linden in a couple of other things, and she sure is pretty, and probably very nice. The only other thing I've seen Roy Castle in is DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS, made just before this, and by the SAME studio!

The film-- in color-- WAS a "big thing" in England, as The Daleks were a "big thing" in England at the time.  From what I've read, it was HUGELY successful. (But only in England; in America, nobody had ever seen or heard of the show... until Jon Pertwee's early stories made it over here.)  I imagine it drew DOCTOR WHO fans as well as Peter Cushing fans (hey, I went to see STAR WARS initially because Cushing was in it-- and he wasn't even playing the part they wanted him for, namely, Obi-Wan). But the TV fans were disappointed, maybe even outraged, that the film didn't feature "the REAL Doctor"-- William Hartnell-- or any of his TV co-stars, either.  Maybe if they only did 26 weeks a year (as they started with the show's 7th season), they'd have had time to do a movie.

Now, Roberta Tovey as Susan is a revelation. I think she's ADORABLE.  She's also, probably, the SMARTEST person in the film, and certainly one of the bravest. Cushing said he would not consider doing the sequel unless they brought her back for it.  They did! I often find myself thinking her Susan is the kind of girl I'd wish I could have if I ever had a daughter. (As an aside, some years back, I saw a photo of her all grown up-- she grew up NIIIIICE! And the funny thing is, as an adult, I thought she bore somewhat of a resemblance to Hartnell. I could picture her as his daughter.)

I find the film is actually much more watchable than the TV version, both because it's more visually impressive (by a mile), but also because of the pacing. There's a section on the TV version, around Part 6 of 7, where it's just painfully obvious the damned story was 1 episode TOO LONG. Not so the movie.

Another funny thing that crossed my mind, the TARDIS interior on the revived show reminds me, a bit, of the one in this film.  Looks rather jumbled and "unfinished". The interiors on the show ALWAYS changed every year, as the BBC never stored any standing sets. So too here, the interior seen in the 2nd movie is completely different-- and a WHOLE lot cooler.

The sad thing is, many of the people who paid to see the 1st film came away disappointed by the lack of the TV cast, and stayed away from the 2nd movie... even though the 2nd film was SUPERIOR on every level.  It may be the single most impressive thing ever made by Amicus. And to this day, it's STILL my favorite "Dalek" story.

...Before I was a Who fan , I was under the impression that this was a featurization of TV material , not a remake , I think .

"featurization"  ?

My understanding is, it was quite common in England to take a TV show or serial and do a movie version of it. Usually, with an ENTIRELY different cast. I guess it's like taking a Broadway musical and doing a Hollywood movie of it.  Usually, they might not get get one or two of the stage actors to reprise their roles. Seems a shame to do a film based on something succcessful, then NOT get the PEOPLE who helped make it successful.

A good example in England might be QUATERMASS, where 3 different TV serials were made into feature films by Hammer, with entirely different casts.  (The first 2 in the 50's, the 3rd, for some reason, around a decade later, and with yet another different actor in the lead.)

There was also "1984", with Peter Cushing, which was done as a movie, WITHOUT him. He once said he was disappointed, but accepted that it was just one of those things they did in the film business.  And it came around again when HE starred in the 2 "Daleks" films, instead of William Hartnell, who had done a lot of movie work before DOCTOR WHO started.  (see CARRY ON SERGEANT)

A strange case is probably the ROBIN HOOD tv series with Richard Green. Hammer did SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST, also with Richard Green.  But NOBODY ELSE from the TV cast. You'd almost wonder, why did they bother? (Peter Cushing was in the film as the Sheriff of Nottingham, replacing whoever had done it on the TV show.) I don't believe they actually redid any of the TV stories in that one, but if anyone knows different, please let me know. (Terrence Fisher directed; it was cool to see him doing something other than horror for a change!)

In America, a lot of TV shows had feature films spun off from them in the 60's, with new stories. I think American audiences would have considered it UNTHINKABLE for any of these films NOT to have the actual TV casts in them.  (BATMAN, perhaps the most well-known example. But even there, they had a replacement for Catwoman-- and shortly after, the "original" actress returned for the 2nd season of the show.)

I understand there were several attempts in the 1970's to do a DOCTOR WHO feature film, all with Tom Baker involved.  Nothing ever came of them.  Too bad. There was talk of having Vincent Price as the villain... (I know they said he was supposed to play THE DEVIL... but Price could have made a good Master, don't you think?)

Back when I first started to watch the new Doctor Who (on DVD), I would loan the discs to a co-worker to watch with her daughter, then nine years old. The girl was so into it, I thought she might like to see some of the older material as well, so shortly after she had seen the episode “Dalek,” I slipped Doctor Who and the Daleks in (reasoning that black and white might be too much of a shock to her young system). They didn’t make it too far past the opening credits. Me. I love the soundtrack music and wish I had a recording of it on CD.

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