Doctor Faustus

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show Doctor Faustus at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 21, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
Genre: Artsy Horror Drama
Director: Richard Burton, Nevill Coghill
Starring: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Andreas Teuber, Ian Marter, Elizabeth O'Donovan
Rated: NR

It is my personal belief that seeing Doctor Faustus once is sufficient for a lifetime, so even though it’s been six years since this was run locally, I will defer to my original review. “When it was first released in 1967, Richard Burton’s film version of Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus was pretty soundly trounced by the critics. And while from today’s perspective it’s not hard to see why, it is hard to understand how they didn’t at least recognize they were in the presence of a bona fide cinematic two-headed cow. Possibly they were too wrapped up in Burton’s one really, really wrong-headed decision (his others being merely really wrong-headed, or just wrong-headed) to notice much else. Since the film was made at a time when Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were in between divorces, he opted to cast Liz as Helen of Troy—and as a variety of other women of somewhat vaguer origin throughout the film. Not only is Taylor’s presence a distraction, it’s downright funny seeing her pop up all over the place as the embodiment of everything that’s desirable in a woman. … Yes, this is a respectable adaptation of the Marlowe play, but Burton and co-director Nevill Coghill opted to open it up, and to tart it up. Some of this approach is effective—Faustus’ walk through the stars with Mephistopheles (Andreas Teuber) is nearly brilliant (at least until Taylor flounces through)—but the overall effect is like a cross between a garishly colored Hammer horror film and a textbook example of ‘60s hallucinogenic trendiness.” Full review is here:

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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4 thoughts on “Doctor Faustus

  1. Chip Kaufmann

    Even though this is the original trailer from 1967 (although from Denmark hence the subtitles), the trailer Steve uses for this week’s Weekly Reeler (Aug 17-23) gives a much better feel for the film so check that one out.

  2. Chip Kaufmann

    Why are there two different trailers and who selected them?

  3. Ken Hanke

    I put the one in the Reeler. I don’t know where Steve found the one he embedded here. Probably a difference in search engines.

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