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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!