Elephant Man (1982)





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This TV adaptation of Bernard Pomerance's play The Elephant Man differs radically from the 1980 theatrical film of the same name. Both are based upon the same true story: that of John Merrick (1863-1890), an unfortunate citizen of Victorian England who suffered from neurofibromatosis, a hideously deforming disease that all but condemned him to a lifetime of circus sideshows. Though he remained trapped in his misshapen body, Merrick was intellectually and emotionally liberated by London physician Frederick Treves, whose sensitive treatment of the "Elephant Man" unlocked the soul beneath his horrific appearance. But whereas the film was graphically realistic in its use of makeup, the TV version follows the precedent set by Pomerance's play: John Merrick's deformity is conveyed purely through the vocal and physical contortions of actor Philip Anglim, repeating his Broadway role. Also carried over from the stage version is Kevin Conway as Dr. Treves. The TV version of The Elephant Man was telecast as an ABC Theatre of the Month special on January 4, 1982. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Philip Anglim
as John Merrick
Kevin Conway
as Frederick Treves
Penny Fuller
as Mrs. Kendall
Richard Clarke
as Carr Gomm
Glenn Close
as Princess Alexandra
William Hutt
as Bishop How
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Audience Reviews for Elephant Man


Wow! This is the filmed version of the theatrical hit The Elephant Man, which doesn't rely on make-up, but rather the acting ability and technique of Philip Anglim to create the physicality of the profoundly deformed John Merrick. Anglim and co-star Kevin Conway, as Dr. Treves, are more than equal to the task. They carry most of the film and do so beautifully. However, the real treat in this film is Penny Fuller as Mrs. Kendal. Fuller is at her best: by turns funny, sassy, sexy, charming, and vulnerable, she rightly won an Emmy for her performance. The performances more than make up for any deficiencies in the film. I just wish it was easier to find. I hope this gets released on DVD soon!

Tim King
Tim King

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