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The Elephant Man (1982)

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



(adaptation), (play)

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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:
John Merrick
Frederick Treves
Mrs. Kendal
Richard Clarke ...
Carr Gomm
Princess Alexandra
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.

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Biography | Drama


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 January 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

ABC Theatre of the Month: The Elephant Man  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The original Broadway production of "The Elephant Man" by Bernard Pomerance opened at the Booth Theater in New York on April 19, 1979, ran for 916 performances and won the 1979 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play. Philip Anglim, Kevin Conway and Richard Clarke repeated their stage roles in the movie version. See more »


Version of The Elephant Man (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

It just doesn't work.
26 February 2003 | by (Who knows?) – See all my reviews

This taped stage production of the Bernard Pomerance play was not only unneccessary (given the Lynch masterpiece that came out two years before), but wildly uneffective. I mean: a John Merrick without makeup doesn't work, because we need to be reminded of his extreme ugliness and deformity through our eyes, just to be even more moved by his humanity through our hearts. That contradiction makes the story work, and having the character portrayed by a very average looking man destroys the whole point. I suppose it's played this way (and in stage it has been frequently, if not always, played this way as well) to focuse on Merrick's soul and not on his body, but no suspension of disbelief can make this really work: Merrick had as much a horrible face and body as he had a beautiful soul, and this combination is imprescindible when acting the story. Also, the Lynch film had situations and dialogues that were much more credible and moving than this version.

This TV-movie was wildly unnecessary. Maybe if it came before the Lynch version, I'd see it as a flawed but interesting first attempt to film the story, but as it came out two years after the Lynch (and the actors portraying Treves and specially Carr Gomm are two Anthony Hopkins and John Gielgud lookalikes, so I assume the filmmakers watched the Lynch classic), I don't see the needing of a remake.

Anyway, this contains a nice bit from the play that is not in the non-play based Lynch film: Merrick's opinion on "Romeo and Juliet", considering Romeo as actually being in love with himself and not caring for Juliet further than as a sexy trophy for himself.

3 out of 10. See the Lynch film.

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