Peter Hooten is the Master of the Mystic Arts in DR. STRANGE, directed by Philip DeGuere for CBS.

Dr. Strange (1978, Philip DeGuere)

Dr. Strange aired in September, Superman came out in December… and they both have the same flying techniques, at least for couples, though Superman does have a longer flying sequences… Dr. Strange just kind of hints at it.

A number of things put Dr. Strange above the standard seventies television movie. First, it rarely has noticeable commercial breaks. It’s been edited, sure, but the story doesn’t have awkward pauses. Second, Jessica Walter’s the villain. Yes, she has some incredibly goofy moments (and goofier makeup) but she’s great. Third, DeGuere worries about composition with his shots. Dr. Strange is a good-looking movie, with DeGuere coming as close to making me believe a Hollywood backlot is New York City as anyone is going to be able to in a seventies TV movie.

The problems, actually, are minor. Except the flying, special effects are bad–the lasers coming out of people’s hands and so on. I wish they’d come up with something more imaginative, since the cheap effects route doesn’t work.

Then there’s the regular plotting problems with a pilot. There’s an almost hour-long setup here and a relatively hurried resolution. DeGuere even gets too subtle on plot points because he just doesn’t have time.

Peter Hooten’s a good lead (it would have been a fine television show), because he’s basically an altruistic alpha male who becomes a superhero (lame costume though).

And Anne-Marie Martin’s a decent romantic interest. She plays young college student well and their romance is compelling.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Philip DeGuere; screenplay by DeGuere, based on the comic book created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko; director of photography, Enzo A. Martinelli; edited by Christopher Nelson; music by Paul Chihara; produced by Alex Beaton; released by Columbia Broadcasting System.

Starring Peter Hooten (Dr. Stephen Strange), Clyde Kusatsu (Wong), Jessica Walter (Morgan LeFay), Anne-Marie Martin (Clea Lake), Philip Sterling (Dr. Frank Taylor, Chief of Psychiatry), John Mills (Thomas Lindmer) and June Barrett (Sarah).

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