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The Duchy of Grand Fenwick decides that the only way to get out of their economic woes is to declare war on the United States, lose and accept foreign aid. They send an invasion force to New York (armed with longbows) which arrives during a nuclear drill that has cleared the streets. Wandering about to find someone to surrender to, they discover a scientist with a special ultimate weapon that can destroy the Earth. When they capture him and his bomb they are faced with a new possibility: What do you do when you win a war? Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The AFI online Catalog reports the showing of this film to diplomats in Geneva, Switzerland on 23 May 1959. There is no mention of the circumstances of the showing. See more »
The narrator tells us that the mock version of Grand Fenwick's wine drove the real wine out of the U.S. market in 1959. A news announcer later reports the score of the last game of the 1958 World Series. See more »
[There is an explosion and we see a huge mushroom cloud on the horizon]
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the end of the film. However, something like this might easily happen, and we thought we should put you in the proper mood. And now, back to our story.
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THE MOUSE THAT ROARED was Peter Sellers' first starring film, and he would succeed beyond all expectations. This became a huge "sleeper hit" when it was shown in the States, and deservedly so. Its brand of satire still holds up today.
The story is about a miniscule European state, the duchy of Grand Fenwick, which sees a way out of bankruptcy by declaring war on the US (to be followed by a quick surrender, and rehabilitative aid from the generous victor). An invasion force, with 12th century chainmail and crossbows, is thereupon dispatched to New York. But by mistake, the commander captures the nuclear "Q-Bomb", along with its inventor and his beautiful daughter, and brings them back to Grand Fenwick.
Sellers plays three roles: Gloriana XII, the old reigning duchess (believe it or not); Baron Montjoy, the crafty prime minister; and Tully Bascomb, the inept army commander. For my money, the third role is the best. Absent any sort of disguise, except for a pair of glasses, Tully is the central character. The first scene of Grand Fenwick's part-time commander, and full-time gamekeeper, has him caught in a trap and unable to scare away the fox that just sits there looking at him. As the bumbling hero, he is funny in his own right, and we're all rooting for him to save the day at the end.
The one and only Sellers does a great job in all departments, the state of Grand Fenwick is expertly brought to the screen with a unique sense of humor, and this MOUSE still roars plenty loud even after forty some years. Four out of five stars.
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