Doctor Faustus (1967 film)

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Doctor Faustus
Doctor Faustas movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Burton
Nevill Coghill
Produced byRichard Burton
Richard McWhorter
Screenplay byNevill Coghill
Based onThe Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
by Christopher Marlowe
StarringRichard Burton
Elizabeth Taylor
Andreas Teuber
Music byMario Nascimbene
CinematographyGábor Pogány
Edited byJohn Shirley
Distributed byColumbia Pictures Corporation
Release date
  • 10 October 1967 (1967-10-10) (United Kingdom)
  • 6 February 1968 (1968-02-06) (United States)
Running time
93 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom

Doctor Faustus is a 1967 film adaptation of the 1588 Christopher Marlowe play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus directed by Richard Burton and Nevill Coghill. The first theatrical film version of a Marlowe play, it was the only film directed by Burton or Coghill, Burton's mentor.[2] It starred Burton as the title character Faustus. Elizabeth Taylor made a silent cameo appearance as Helen of Troy. The film is a permanent record of a stage production that Burton starred in and staged with Coghill at the Oxford University Dramatic Society in 1966. Burton wouldn't appear onstage again until he took over the role of Martin Dysart in Equus on Broadway ten years later.


University of Wittenberg scholar Faustus earns his doctorate, but his insatiable craving for knowledge and power leads Faustus to try his hand at necromancy in an attempt to conjure Mephistopheles out of hell. Faustus bargains his soul to Lucifer in exchange for 24 living years where Mephistopheles is his slave. Signing the pact in his own blood, Mephistopheles proceeds to reveal to Faustus the works and doings of the Devil.



Reviews of the staged version in the British press were "less than enthusiastic", with critics commenting "a sad example of university drama at its worst", with an uninspired Burton "walking through the part". Taylor was "undeniably decorative, but there was nothing much to say about her acting ability".[3] The movie received a terribly negative review in The New York Times, Renata Adler criticizing the adaptation of the text ("the play has been quite badly cut"), Burton's performance ("he seems happiest shouting in Latin, or in Ms. Taylor's ear"), the score ("some horrible electronic Wagnerian theme music"), and Taylor's role ("in this last role [Alexander's paramour], she is, for some reason, frosted all over with silver--like a pastry, or a devaluated refugee from Goldfinger[4]"), reserving praise only for Teuber's performance ("one fine, very pious performance").[5]


  1. ^ "DOCTOR FAUSTUS (X)". British Board of Film Classification. 26 July 1967. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  2. ^ Bevington, David (2010). "The Performance History". In Sara Munson Deats (ed.). Doctor Faustus: A Critical Guide. A&C Black. pp. 41–71. ISBN 9781847061386.
  3. ^ Lewis, Anthony (16 February 1966). "Dr. Faustus Gets Cool a Welcome: British Reviewers Criticize the Burtons and the Play". The New York Times. p. 49.
  4. ^ One of the memorable visual images in the James Bond film Goldfinger, produced three years before Doctor Faustus, was the film villain's habit of covering women with gold.
  5. ^ Adler, Renata (7 February 1968). "Screen: Faustus Sells His Soul Again: Burtons and Oxford Do the Devil's Work; Adaptation of Marlowe Play at 2 Theaters". The New York Times. p. 38.

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