My Favourite Peter Sellers Comedies

 Last night, I watched The Party. It put PeterSellers at the top of the list of my favourite comic actors. He makes me laugh with the least effort. I used to think Mr. Bean is hilarious, that Leon Schuster is awesome, that Jim Carrey was the god of comedy, but they all disappointed me at some point. (Okay, he does not beat Woody Allen. I think Woody will be my favourite of all time, because Woody is not just a comic actor, but also a funny writer and director. I’ll do a list of my favourite Woody Allen’s next). With Sellers, every film of his I’ve seen is a riot. Or well, maybe not The Man Who Never Was, but again, it was a very entertaining film, and it only confirmed to me that he was gifted actor, able to fit any role, be it comedic of serious. As happens in the industry, he got typed with comedy (I think) and so most of the films he was given were in that genre. 
Peter Sellers. London, 1973. Photo from Wikipedia
Being There (1979) I’ve never watched a film as good as this one, not in a long time. It might be better than Harold and Maude, though they probably share the spoils. It’s about a simple man with a mental disability. He is called Chance. His brains never develop beyond childhood, but it doesn’t make him an idiot, as you might imagine. Certainly not like I Am Sam, or The Rain Man. He has lived for as long as he can remember in the backyard of his benefactor’s house. He is a gardener. It’s the only thing he knows. Then his life turns around when he his guardian dies, and he is thrown out of the house. For the first time, he is out in the streets. He is a guy who has never been outside the doors in decades, and what follows is a sweetly sad story with a weirdly happy ending. He ends up the President of the USA! Okay, maybe not. But you get the feeling that he will be the next one. 🙂
I particularly loved the acting in that film. I’ve read that Sellers went to great lengths to perfect his portrayal of Chance, he changed his voice and the way the character walked. According to wikipeadia, “Sellers considered Chance’s walking and voice the character’s most important attributes, and in preparing for the role, he worked alone with a tape recorder, or with his wife, and then with Ashby, to perfect the clear enunciation and flat delivery needed to reveal ‘the childlike mind behind the words’,” and that in order to remain in character, he refused to do interviews and kept aloof from the other actors. I love such an actor. He should have won all the awards for that role. Quoting wiki again “Critic Frank Richwrote that the acting skill required for this sort of role, with a “schismatic personality that Peter had to convey with strenuous vocal and gestural technique … A lesser actor would have made the character’s mental dysfunction flamboyant and drastic … [His] intelligence was always deeper, his onscreen confidence greater, his technique much more finely honed”: in achieving this, Sellers “makes the film’s fantastic premise credible”.
The Party (1968) In this film, Sellers plays an error prone Indian actor, Hrundi V. Bakshi, who accidentally gets an invitation to a high class party. At first I was sceptical, and thought he would end up offending Indians, but by minute fifteen, I saw he was at his best again. I totally believed he was an Indian, with the accent, the subtle head shake, the Namaste hand clasp, the English! My, and do comedies get any better than this? It’s told in the fashion of the films of those days, where everything happens largely in one location. I want to write such a film soon.
The Ladykillers (1955). At first, I thought it was a film about hunks who ‘kill’ ladies. Then, I thought it was a film about a gang of psychopaths who go around killing ladies. I was wrong. It has a very captivating plot. A gang of thieves plan a robbery. They use an old woman’s house as their base, where they pretend to be musicians rehearsing for a performance. The old woman is an eccentric widow with a raucous parrot. The thieves think she will be a pushover, when she stumbles upon their plan. Instead, she finds herself part of the gang, to her horror.
A Shot in the Dark (1964) This is arguably the best of The Pink Panther series. I loved it more than The Pink Panther itself. Like all good comedies, the plot has a very fast pace, and like all good mysteries, it has a lot of twists and turns. I totally loved the scene in the nudist colony! Sellers gives a more interesting portrayal of the bungling French detective, Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Though I’ve come to respect him as an actor, I found it disturbing that in this film, he forced the producers to fire one director, and then he did not get along well with the replacement director. They even stopped talking to each other. I don’t like it when actors become too big for the director, however good the actor is. He should have directed the film himself.
The Mouse That Roared (1959) The premise of this film is a weird one. A small country, smaller than even Uganda, invades the United States, and wins the war. I’ve fantasised about such a thing happening in real life, and i’ve had delusions of being a general who leads the war against the US. After all the trouble they have caused in the world, it would be nice to have someone whack them (not some cowardly terrorists, but a real army to go there and kick ass and put some sense into them). In this way, this film was kind of prophetic, for many people around the world would love to the downfall of a big bully. Sellers played three roles, he was the elderly queen, the ambitious Prime Minister and the innocent, clumsy farm boy who leads the invasion. The film is packed with humour, I laughed every five minutes or so. But it’s also very entertaining. I’m yet to see an idiotic film that captures my attention the way this one did.
There are other good ones, like Dr. Strangelove, in which he played four roles, but I did not like. Maybe because it only appeals to the cold-war era. The Mouse That Roared is also based in that era, when nuclear weapons threatened the world, but its premise (attacking a bully, the US, and using war as a tool of profit) speaks to our generation as well, and will continue to be relevant long after nuclear politics are gone. He was also in Lolita, which I did not like much, maybe because the book was better, and the girl in the film did not look like an under-aged girl. The Pink Panther, which I didn’t enjoy as much as I enjoyed the ensuing one. I loved What’s New Pussycat, in which he appeared with Woody Allen, but well it wasn’t the best of Woody’s films.
If you enjoyed this story, you should follow me on facebook and on twitter and on YouTube.
You May Also Like:
My favorite inter-racial movies
Wanderlust Begins at home
Do you believe in the love of the silver screen?
Real life quoting the movies
Inter-racial blues

Travel Videos on YouTube

Have you been to our YouTube Channel lately? Those of you who have will notice that we have started putting up travel videos. I was looking through my archives and I saw I had a lot of stuff that I filmed in Nepal, as well as in Uganda, and that I had filmed while making one documentary or the other, but ended up not using. Then I thought of making them into short docs, webdocs, whatever they are called, but these are stories that will give you insight on the different cultures I’ve encountered, as well as tips on how to travel, what to do on your travels, and such things.

Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda

The first is about how to enjoy a holiday in Lake Bunyonyi, in Western Uganda. Things to do in Lake Bunyonyi are very many, but in our recent visit, we did a dozen things that we thought are the coolest and most fun activities while on a holiday in that lake. Enjoy the video here. Hope it inspires you.

Interviewing the Batwa, in Lake Bunyonyi.
Documentaries have enabled me to travel far and wide.
A pretty girl, with whose family I stayed while in Nepal. Very friendly people.

While in Nepal, I encountered many types of people, doing many careers. The ones who intrigued me the most were the gold makers. You would think that someone whose duty it is to make gold would be rich, would be from the upper caste. Apparently, gold makers, otherwise called Sunar in the caste system, were at the bottom of the rung. They were untouchable. I have never been able to figure out this caste system. Why did they put all artists into the untouchable category? Musicians (Damai), jewelers (Sunar), blacksmiths (Bishwarkarma), shoe makers (Kamai), Entertainers (Badi) and many others. They were all bundled up as untouchables. Even architects and builders. Yet, strangely, the upper castes used to enjoy the works of these categories, wear the jewelry, live in the houses they built, dance to their music. I think it’s something like slave labor. I visited a shop where they make gold items, in Biratnagar, the second biggest city in Nepal, in the east of that country. Here is the video.

Mehendi artwork. A Nepali woman shows love of her husband.
Nepali children at a market.

Ha, you will like this one. We were idle one time in my humble kitchen. I picked out the camera and asked Reiza to say something. She had this green stuff on her face and I did not know what it was. She said it was avocado. I could not understand why. I thought she wanted to become an alien, but apparently, she had a few tips on how a woman can stay beautiful while on the road. How she can look after her skin without having to carry loads of cosmetics and stuff. The more I think about it, the more I wonder why women even bother to buy cosmetics, yet everything they need to become beautiful exists in nature, and is free of charge! Enjoy the video.

Meanwhile, remember to subscribe to our YouTube Channel  

Doesn’t matter what work you are doing.
Stay pretty with natural, beauty products.
Heavy make-up. A girl dressed as Krishna in a Nepali festival.
If you enjoyed this story, you should follow me on facebook and on twitter and on YouTube.
You May Also Like:

Wanderlust Begins at home