Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pop Focus: Doctor Who hits the big screen, summer 1965

Summer 1965 marked the debut of "Doctor Who" on British movie screens. Yet, this Doctor wasn't quite the same one who appeared in British TV screens two year before.

He sort of looked the same: An older gentleman, dapper of dress and a bit eccentric. But he was played by veteran screen actor Peter Cushing (star of numerous Hammer Studios horror films and later to appear in the first "Star Wars" movie as Grand Moff Tarkin) not William Hartnell, the familiar Doctor from the TV series.

Numerous other things where different, too. This Doctor was a human, not from Gallifrey. He was an inventor who built his own time machine.

And he had not one, but two, granddaughters: In addition to Susan, Barbara -- who was only an acquaintance on the TV series -- was now a blood relation. Ian, Barbara's boyfriend, was on hand, too. But, like the Doctor, all were played by actors different from the TV series.

The element of the film that was most like the film was the primary reason for making it in the first place: The Daleks.

Dating from their first appearance on the TV series, the Daleks were as big as the Beatles with the pre-teen set, spawning a range of toys and other merchandise. A big screen movie, in color, that featured the screeching mechanical monsters would be a huge draw in Britain. And simplifying the Doctor's back story would make the story more approachable in overseas market, like the U.S., where the TV series hadn't appeared.

So, in July 1965, "Doctor Who and the Daleks," based very loosely on the TV story of the same name, appeared in British movie houses. It was released in the U.S. the following summer and even spawned a sequel, "Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.," starring Cushing and featuring British actor/comedian Bernard Cribbens, who appeared on the "Doctor Who" TV show many years later as Donna Noble's granddad, Wilfred Mott.

Both the 1960s films occasionally turn up on cable. And there was even a Dell Comics adaptation of the first movie.

Here, then, is a look at that first Doctor Who film and associated images of the time.


1 comment:

  1. To be fair 'though, the Doctor's back story hadn't yet been established in 1965. The TV programme had hinted that the Doctor and Susan might not be from Earth (or at least the Earth of the 20th century), but it hadn't all been 'spelt out' yet. Great images.