Saturday, January 20, 2007

Richard III

I was a big Peter Sellers fan when I was young - I first discovered him through The Goon Show on radio. The CBC used to play classic British radio comedy, and I listened to them all; Hancock's Halfhour (my favourite), the Goons, My Word and Lines From My Grandfather's Forehead were the ones I remember. Now people don't think so much of Sellers, and I've read comments that say he's dated, but I think it's really the material that's dated. I don't think Peter Sellers gets the credit he deserves as an actor, because people really only know the Pink Panther movies. He was very gifted though, especially in voice mimicry and parody. I'd never seen this 1960s piece until a few days ago, but it's brilliant. And as I was a big Olivier fan back then too, this just combines two of my youthful enthusiasms in one bizarre performance. Peter Sellers playing Laurence Olivier playing Richard III doing 'Hard Day's Night'. (With thanks to The Llama Butchers)


Blogger Dr. Alice said...

Gee whiz, that was brilliant. Somehow while watching I flashed on Wm Shatner doing "Tambourine Man." (Is that wrong??)

I've always loved Peter Sellers. Back when I was a little thing in med school I lived within walking distance of a video store that specialized in imports. I was lucky enough to rent vids such as "The Smallest Show on Earth," "I'm All Right Jack" (a particularly cutting comment on the UK labor culture) and "Only Two Can Play." I highly recommend going to for further info on said movies (not sure how to add links in comments).

His personal life, from all I've read/heard, was wanting; all I can say is the man was an underrated genius professionally and it's too bad that these days he's known mainly as Inspector Clouseau. Though he was certainly good as Clouseau.

11:35 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Yes, he was good as Clouseau, but it was such a limited showcase for his talents. And like I said, the usual problem with a franchise appeared, and the writing went downhill, so there was little he could do. I guess 'Doctor Strangelove' is an exception to the rule that nobody knows him except for Clouseau; people do know that one, but that isn't a Peter Sellers movie, it's a Stanley Kubrick movie. What he does in that movie, though, is what he can really do when he's at his best - he just disappears into the character.

"Back when I was a little thing in med school I lived within walking distance of a video store that specialized in imports." Ah, you're a young thing! Why, back in MY day, if you wanted to see a Peter Sellers movie, you had to study the TV guide, and then get out of bed whenever a movie came on, and go downstairs and watch it on your black and white TV! "Hmmm, 2:30AM Thursday, 'The World of Henry Orient'. Guess I'll be setting the alarm for that one." I wrote a comment for 'I'm All Right Jack' as well as for The Wrong Box, which is maybe my favourite comedy ever. I think Sellers's reputation will rise again as the years pass, and people look past his big box office hits and discover his better work.

11:27 am  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Oops, messed up the imdb link for 'I'm All Right Jack' - here it is.

11:40 am  
Blogger Ellie M said...

Have you heard Peter Sellers' impersonation of Alec Guinness? It's absolutely hysterical. One reviewer said that Sellers "sounded more like Guinness than Guinness himself did"!

2:41 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Peter Sellers impersonating Alec Guinness? Oh, no, I haven't heard that, but I wish I had! Alec Guinness is another one of my favourites, and unlike Olivier, I don't think his style has dated at all. If you know where it can be found online, do let me know, I'd love to hear it.

3:20 pm  
Blogger Ellie M said...

Did you ever hear "Gilmour's Albums" on CBC radio? Clyde used to play that phony Guinness interview a lot. I don't know where he got it, though. Perhaps there's a compilation of Sellers recordings somewhere.

My favourite part goes something like this: "My next project is a 17th century Persian play, which we shall be performing in modern dress. We are doing this partly to demonstrate the relevance of the play's themes for today's audience, and partly because we couldn't find any 17th century Persian costumes." Vintage Sellers.

10:56 am  

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