The 1978 Live-action Doctor Strange movie

In 1978, Universal Television produced the first ever live-action Marvel Doctor Strange TV movie titled Dr. Strange – directed by Philip DeGuere.

This was originally supposed to be a pilot for the TV show. However, due to poor reception; further continuation was cancelled.

This movie stars Peter Hooten, in the leading role as Stephen Strange and Jessica Walter as the villain; Morgan Le Fay.

Synopsis

There is a barrier that separates the known from the unknown… Enter a world filled with sorcerers, powerful supernatural forces and bizarre enchantments as the famed Marvel Comics superhero Dr. Strange comes to life to battle the forces of evil.

Review & Characters

I watched this movie for the first time today. It’s quite entertaining! The acting was decent. They did their best with the vfx, that they had for the time.

Stephen Strange

Peter Hooten as Doctor Stephen Strange in Dr. Strange 1978
Universal Television/Marvel

I really enjoyed Peter Hooten’s iteration of Stephen Strange, his scenes were very commanding, strong and convincing for his role.

Stephen Strange’s origins are different to the 2016 version; where he doesn’t have any tragic accidents… the backstory is that the car accident happens to his parents instead. Strange is also not a neurosurgeon; he is a psychiatrist in this story.

Lindmer

John Mills as Lindmer in Dr. Strange 1978
Universal Television/Marvel

John Mills is Lindmer; the sorcerer who shows Stephen Strange that there’s more to the world, Strange is ignorant of magic existing. The 2016 ‘open your eyes‘ scene is near enough the same as this, except Benedict Cumberbatch’s movie features the Ancient One for these scenes instead.

Stephen Strange navigating dimensions in Dr. Strange 1978 and Doctor Strange 2016
Universal Television/Marvel Studios

Sorceress Morgan Le Fay

Jessica Walter as Morgan Le Fay in Dr. Strange 1978
Universal Television/Marvel

I do feel like it’s a little bit slow to build up. The plot for villain is lacking, as they don’t develop character: Morgan Le Fay (Jessica Walter) much, she’s mainly seen just walking around. There’s verbal backstory explained for a lot of the characters, rather than shown as well.

Clea Lake

Clea Lake played by Anne-Marie Martin in Dr. Strange 1978
Universal Television/Marvel

Clea Lake played by Anne-Marie Martin. Martin gave a great performance in the role of someone that’s being stalked and manipulated by an evil sorceress. Clea is also Stephen Strange’s love-interest in this movie. It’s interesting that Marvel shows our first look at Clea in live action, something the MCU has yet to do; as 2016 movie briefly had Christine Palmer as his love interest. There are rumours that a new iteration of Clea could be showing up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

Wong

Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) in Dr. Strange 1978
Universal Television/Marvel

There’s a stark difference between the 1978 and 2016 version, when seeing the character Wong (Clyde Kusatsu). The character behaves more like a valet to Sorcerer Lindmer, even at some point serving him food. Lindmer acknowledges to Wong in the movie, that he’s not a servant; but a student and friend. In the comics Wong was considered a sidekick and valet to Doctor Stephen Strange. The 2016 movie upgraded Benedict Wong’s iteration of the character to be a sorcerer, and now as Sorcerer Supreme, since Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Stephen Strange doesn’t perform much magic in the movie though. I do think it would have benefited from the story being continued with more context visually shown.

The ending is near enough the same as the 2016 movie; with him becoming the sorcerer, dressed in his costume.

Where to watch Dr. Strange (1978)

In US & Canada, the movie will be releasing on blu ray on April 26, 2022 by Shout Factory. This is a ‘NEW High-Definition Transfer And Restoration From The Original Film Elements’.

UK DVD Release

There’s currently no blu ray version available to anywhere else except US & Canada. The DVD release is availabe here:

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Steven Soper
Steven Soper

Owner/Editor-in-Chief/Writer/Social Media for the Chatter Box Film website. Follow @chatterboxfilm on Twitter.

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