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The Mouse That Roared (1959)

Approved | | Comedy | November 1959 (USA)
An impoverished backward nation declares a war on the United States of America, hoping to lose, but things don't go according to plan.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay) (as Roger Macdougall), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Helen Kokintz
...
Will Buckley
...
...
MacDonald Parke ...
General Snippet (as Macdonald Parke)
Austin Willis ...
United States Secretary of Defense
...
Roger
Monte Landis ...
Cobbley (as Monty Landis)
Alan Gifford ...
Air Raid Warden
...
BBC Announcer
Harold Kasket ...
Pedro
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Storyline

The Duchy of Grand Fenwick, the smallest country in the world, is nestled in the French Alps. Being as isolated as it is, its life is a throwback to olden days. It is a happy, peace-loving country. Its economy solely rests on export of its only wine, Pinot Grand Fenwick, to the US. When a California vintner starts producing and selling a knock-off of the Pinot Grand Fenwick at a lower price, the Grand Fenwick economy goes into a crisis situation, the country on the brink of bankruptcy. Three protests to the US go largely unanswered. Grand Fenwick's Prime Minister, Rupert of Mountjoy, believes the solution is to declare war on the US, and promptly lose the war in less than a day with no casualties on either side, after which the US, which it has historically done, will provide vast financial aide to rebuild the country. Grand Fenwick's monarch, the Grand Duchess Gloriana XII, ultimately supports this concept. The plan is to send an official declaration of war to the US, have a small ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Direct Hit to Your Funny Bone! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

November 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El rugido del ratón  »

Box Office

Budget:

$450,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Grand Duchess' car is a 1913 Sunbeam 12/16. See more »

Goofs

After Grand Fenwick's army sets sail for home, the headlines in one American newspapers (the San Francisco Review) talks about war mobilisation. American newspapers would spell it mobilization. See more »

Quotes

Solider #1: Hey, you see that big building?
Solider #2: Well?
Solider #1: Well, I saw it first, it's mine.
See more »

Crazy Credits

An animated mouse roars like a lion as the title appears onscreen. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Caisson Song
(1907) (uncredited)
(also called "The Caissons Go Rolling Along")
Written by Edmund L. Gruber
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A British Comedy Classic, and A Relevant One- don't listen to the review above!
16 July 2004 | by (Cheshire, CT) – See all my reviews

An Exercise in Cold War Absurdity.

This is a true classic, with one of the wittiest scripts ever written, and hilarious performances from a perfect cast.

It's not slapstick, which is perhaps why some people not acquainted with British humor (at least before Monty Python), have been turned off. It's also a bit sophisticated for children. It's a satire which relies for its laughs on an absurd plot, absurd dialogue, and hilariously absurd caricatures.

Although it's considered a harmless entertainment, 'The Mouse That Roared' is chock full of satiric jibes at the dirty politics, international relations, and paranoid culture of The Cold War- its just that the jokes are so quick and subtle that you might miss them if you blink (one of my favorite touches concerns a radio report of 'aliens'- actually the chain-mailed soldiers of Grand Fenwick- sighted in Central Park. Upon hearing the report amongst a crowd of shocked New Yorkers, one well-dressed, perfectly normal looking gent mutters about the supposed alien invasion: 'I knew it it HAD to come to this!' This is the filmmakers' fairly accurate portrayal of how far some Americans had descended, by this time, into Atomic, Cold War and Space-Crazed paranoia).

It should be said that the diplomatic relations between America and the World, as portrayed in this film, are even MORE RELEVANT now than they were during the Cold War; except that the American statesmen seem so virtuous and well-meaning in comparison to some of our current ones. Rent it and you'll see what I mean.

This is also, all things considered, probably the best Peter Sellers vehicle produced in Britain- all the rest, of varying quality, were much shorter on laughs (also of note, however, are 'The Naked Truth' and 'Only Two Can Play'). Tully Bascombe is not an outrageous or demonstrative character like Inspector Clouseau. Instead, Sellers takes a fairly normal, if a bit pathetic, Everyman and manages to make him quite funny in nearly every scene. And as the Grand Duchess he is absolutely hilarious- it's impossible to watch this performance for a moment without laughing.

As someone who is very well acquainted with British film comedies, I can say without hesitation that this is one of the very best, even in a decade which produced 'The Lavender Hill Mob' and 'The Ladykillers' (directed by Alex MacKendrick, who was a cousin to Roger macDougall, the ingenious screenwriter of 'Mouse That Roared.' Even if the film's plot and dialogue were not so consistently funny, its undoubted charm, and its magnificent triple performance by Sellers, are more than worth the price of rental.


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