Looking Back at the Other Doctor Strange Movie

Marvel Studios’ latest blockbuster is Doctor Strange, a rollicking origin story about comicdom’s master of the mystic arts starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It is expected to reign at the box office for the second straight week, but what you may not have realized is that this isn’t the first time Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme has made the leap from the printed page to the screen. Back in 1978, CBS aired a Dr. Strange telefilm that was intended to be a pilot for an ongoing series that would serve as a companion show to the network’s The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk shows. The film focuses on the hero’s journey of young psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) as he enters a world of magic and mysticism after he is granted amazing abilities and tasked with stopping the evil Morgan LeFey (Jessica Walter, now best known for her roles in Arrested Development and Archer) from allowing a demonic force to invade Earth. Clyde Kusatsu, Anne-Marie Martin, John Mills add some engaging charm to the supporting cast. Unfortunately, the budget was less than stellar, and the movie is, at times, inexplicably dull. (Which helps explain why no follow-up series ever materialized). However, there are moments of genuine enjoyment to be found — thanks largely to the performances of John Mills and Jessica Walter at her scenery-chewing finest. The film has just been issued on Blu-ray thanks to the folks at Shout Factory, given an entire new generation the chance to experience its, well, magic.