The Master of the Mystic Arts comes under attack from Morgan Le Fay…
No, this isn’t a very early review of the all-singing, all-dancing spectacular coming next week from Marvel… this is the original attempt to put Stephen Strange onto screens, from 1978. Peter Hooten is the Sorcerer Supreme in this incarnation, with John Mills (yes, Professor Quatermass himself) as Lindmer (basically, the Ancient One), Play Misty for Me’s Jessica Walter as Morgan, and Eddie Benton (aka Sledge Hammer’s Anne-Marie Martin) as Clea. It comes from the same period as the Bill Bixby Hulk series, and the Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man, which will give you an idea of the effects level, but had more input from Stan Lee, which might explain why it’s rather closer in tone to the comic book than some versions.
You can see why it didn’t take off to series, but as a one-off movie (and judged as a period piece), it’s moderately enjoyable: Hooten shows progression for the character, and Mills gives as much gravitas to the part as he can. Soundtrack fans may find Paul Chihara’s score interesting – a year before Star Trek: The Motion Picture, there’s some very familiar sounds in the bass register!
Phlip DeGuere wrote and directed the piece and obviously had a clear vision of everything that he wanted from it. It would be interesting to see it redone with contemporary effects, and condensed to an hour, because at its heart, it’s a good transition of the character, although understandably, as a pilot, it’s more Stephen Strange than Dr. Strange.
Verdict: An interesting relic from Marvel history. 6/10
DR. STRANGE, originally made for television in 1978 under the guidance of Stan Lee, was released for the first time ever on DVD in the UK on 17th October 2016 from Universal Pictures (UK).