The Unknown Peter Sellers (2000)

TV Special  |   |  Documentary, Biography
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Credited cast:
Fred Applegate ...
Himself (as Sir David Frost)
Richard Lester ...
David Lodge ...
Joseph McGrath ...
Himself (as Joe McGrath)
Harry Secombe ...
Himself (as Sir Harry Secombe)
Himself (archive footage)
Alexander Walker ...


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Release Date:

25 April 2000 (USA)  »

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A fairly good run through Peter Sellers career
11 January 2015 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK) – See all my reviews

This Peter Sellers documentary is one that never delves too deeply into what made him who he is and it is very light on material relating to his private life. I don't know too much about that but have always been aware he wasn't the easiest character in real life. I reckon this documentary would have benefited from featuring at least a little on this to put everything into more context. What it is really about is his work, from stage to radio, onto TV then movies and latterly to adverts. His career covered so much ground that gaps have to be left but it did seem quite poor that nothing whatsoever was mentioned about his performance in Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1962), a role where he was especially fantastic. Also, it would have been at least interesting to have highlighted some of the later movies that the documentary suggested were bad and which he only did for the money - a documentary, after all, works far better when it doesn't just focus on the good but the lesser moments too.

One thing it did do very well though was to show clips from early TV and movie work that have barely been seen since. This stuff was fascinating seeing as it's the only place most people will ever see this material. There was also a clip shown from a later obscurity called A Day at the Beach – a film co-written by Roman Polanski and one he had to leave due to his wife Sharon Tate being murdered while he worked on it. This film became effectively lost for decades. Its unusual details like these that are most successful about this documentary. Unsurprisingly a lot of time is spent on Sellers most celebrated work such as The Goon Show, Dr. Strangelove, the Pink Panther series and Being There. Despite the familiarity of these, there are varies bits of interesting trivia revealed for all of them. Unfortunately, there is no archive interview material featuring the man himself and instead we have to make do with contributions from all manner of people who worked with him; some are more worthwhile than others shall we say. Overall, this is a good enough look at Sellers work. It could have been a lot better but it should offer something for anyone interested in the man's career.

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