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The Elephant Man (1982)

TV Movie  -   -  Biography | Drama  -  4 January 1982 (USA)
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A taped version of the stage play about a hideously deformed 19th-century London man and how he managed to triumph over his disease.



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Title: The Elephant Man (TV Movie 1982)

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Philip Anglim ...
Penny Fuller ...
Richard Clarke ...
Jarlath Conroy ...
William Hutt ...
Bishop How
Charlotte Moore ...
Miss Sandwich
Josephine Nichols ...
David Rounds ...
Lord John
Veronica Castang ...
William Duff-Griffin ...
Pinhead Manager


A taped version of the stage play about a hideously deformed 19th-century London man and how he managed to triumph over his disease.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama





Release Date:

4 January 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

ABC Theatre of the Month: The Elephant Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Philip Anglim was nominated for the 1979 Tony Award (New York City) for Actor in a Drama for "The Elephant Man" and recreated his role in this production. See more »


Version of The Elephant Man (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

mirror, mirror who is society's ugliest of all?
24 December 2003 | by (New Hampshire) – See all my reviews

This taped adaption of Bernard Pomerance's Broadway play stays quite faithful in its translation to that usually treacherous paramour called the small screen (although it unfortunately loses some dialogue and scenes to fill the time slot). The themes of illusion versus reality, the hypocrisy of Victorian society (or ours?), self promotion veiled as charity, science versus faith are still here (if only in expurgated form) for the viewer to ruminate about. While little sentiment (and certainly no mawkish sentiment)presents itself to us it is all the more powerful for it's absence. While we certainly pity the hapless Merrick's plight we begin to pity his benefactor Treeves' plight even more.

Lynch's superb film version (unrelated to the Broadway play)focuses our attentions on Merrick's tortures to personal transformation. Pomerance's version focuses our attentions on Treeve's transformation from smug self assuredness to personally tortured. Treeves becomes as much a victim of the repressive and rigid social standards of his society as is Merrick. Although what's worse for Treeves is that he is one of those society's elite members with no one he can truly turn to for solace.

Throughout the teleplay ideas return and act like mirrors that reflect earlier scenes. But like a mirror in a funhouse they distort and subvert the original in the most startling of ways. The fact that Merrick's deformity is only sustained(although we see graphic slides of how he actually looked)by the viewer's act of imagination is never a pretentious theatrical gimmick but works as a kind of litmus test to show the difference between what we see (audience) and they see (characters).

The acting throughout is stellar. An interesting tid-bit: Christopher Hewett (a.k.a. Mr. Belvedere) plays Merrick's manager Ross, who despite his harsh treatment of Merrick, sees upper crust society's visits to Merrick as the polished up sideshow it is. Only this time it's free of charge. Penny Fuller, in a crucial supporting role as Madge Kendall, also shines as the initially superficial social butterfly who eventually becomes the only one to truly see Merrick as the complex adult he truly is. A touching and haunting television play that will pierce your heart and provoke your mind.

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