I Like Money (1961) Poster

(1961)

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8/10
A very worthy remake
MartinHafer2 January 2021
Marcel Pagnol wrote many wonderful stories and his films of the 1930s are among my favorite movies. In this case, "Mr. Topaze" ("I Like Money") is a remake of one of these terrific films...a film originally made in the US and France back in 1933. I loved these films....and also enjoyed this remake by actor/director Peter Sellers.

Surprisingly, this wonderful film was a box office bomb back in 1961...which is why the movie was renamed to "I Like Money" and released in the USA...where it also apparently bombed. In fact, Sellers apparently tried to buy up all the prints...probably because he was embarrassed by this failure. But, fortunately, the British Film Institute found a copy....and it's been released to the Criterion Channel and on DVD.

When the story begins, Mr. Topaze is a poor but immensely honest school teacher. He is the epitome of decency and ultimately it brings him nothing but poverty and he finds himself fired because he refuses to set aside his strong moral compass.

Later, Topaze is approached by a well respected businessman and is offered a job. Topaze is so guileless that he doesn't realize that he is actually being hired as a front. Mr. Benac (Herbert Lom) is a well respected crook...and wants to use Topaze's good name to do his dirty business. What's next...especially after Topaze eventually realizes the ruse?

While I think I prefer the earlier versions of this story, Sellers' version is most respectable and enjoyable. It really is sad that the film did poorly, as it deserved much better. Well acted and clever....and most enjoyable.
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6/10
after almost 60 years
ferguson-611 June 2020
Greetings again from the darkness. This is the only feature film to have Peter Sellers credited as a director, and it was released in 1961. Retitled "I Like Money" for its United States release, it seems that regardless of the title or continent, the film can only be labeled a box office flop and disappointment to viewers and critics alike. Considered "long lost" and unseen for decades, the only surviving 35mm print has been restored by the British Film Institute, so that new generations can be disappointed ... or perhaps appreciate it from a 'history of cinema' perspective (which I certainly do).

Peter Sellers directs himself, as he stars as Albert Topaze, a provincial schoolteacher of the highest integrity. We get a good feel for Topaze in the scenes playing under the opening credits. He's a dedicated teacher, but not one the students respect. Topaze has a crush on fellow teacher Ernestine (played beautifully by Billie Whitelaw, whom you'll recall as the nanny in THE OMEN, 1976). The obstacle here is that Ernestine is the daughter of the bellowing Headmaster Muche (Leo McKern, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, 1966), Topaze's demanding boss. Topaze's loyal friend and landlord is Tamise (Michael Gough, BATMAN, 1989), another fellow teacher.

Topaze is a timid fellow, though of the highest moral principles. When the Baroness (fiery Martita Hunt) flashes what today we would call entitlement by demanding Topaze change her grandson's grade or be fired, Topaze finds himself out of work. It's here where scheming Suzy (Nadia Gray, forever a part of cinematic lore thanks to her unforgettable cameo in LA DOLCE VITA, 1960) and Castel Benac (Herbert Lom, Sellers' memorable co-star in the "Pink Panther" franchise and THE LADYKILLERS, 1955), entice Topaze into their shady business ... hoping to fend off legal inquiries given the reputation for honesty Topaze brings to the enterprise.

Can money corrupt even the most upstanding character? The story comes from renowned French writer Marcel Pagnol and his 1933 play with Raymond Massey in the lead. Pagnol also wrote the novels "Jean De Florette" and "Manon of the Spring", the sources of two excellent films from director Claude Berri. There have been at least three other film versions of 'Topaze', two 1933 projects including one starring John Barrymore and directed by Harry d'Abbadie d'Arrast, and a 1951 version directed by Pagnol himself with Fernandel in the lead.

Mr. Sellers is in fine form here, and in the first half he displays some of the physical comedic traits that defined his Inspector Jacques Couseau in the 'Pink Panther' series a couple of years later, and this film was released three years prior to the all-time classic DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB. It seems the real issue with the movie, and why it was so poorly received, is that Sellers plays such a challenging character. Initially Topaze is a sympathetic, likable man and he transitions to one we have little interest in - one to whom viewers simply can't relate.

Still, despite the obstacles within the story, it's fascinating to go back almost 60 years and discover a previously unseen Sellers project that features not just the stellar cast listed above, but also John Neville (THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN or for fans of "The X-Files", he known as "the well-manicured man"), British film veteran John Le Mesurier as a blackmailer, and the only film acting gig for Michael Sellers, the son of Peter (he plays young Gaston).

Nadia Gray sizzles in singing "I Like Money", a song written by Herbert Kretzmer, and Herbert Lom gets an instant classic line, "He's an idiot. I like him." Is this a comedy? Certainly the first 20 minutes bring laughs, but by the end, those laughs seem quite distant. Watching a man lose his soul and his friends is painful. Can money buy happiness? Topaze has his answer, but as viewers we aren't so sure he's correct.
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2/10
I haven't changed my views after 61 years
malcolmgsw10 September 2021
I saw this film on its release at the local Odeon In my film diary I wrote "TERRIBLE!!!!".I have to say that after trying , unsuccessfully,to plough my way through this film,I agree with my previous verdict.. This film came at a time when Sellers was trying to change his career from playing comedy roles such as Fred Kyte to comedy and dramatic roles,but this was not a complete success as this film proves.

Maybe Sellers fans are just to pleased to be able to see this film,than to be able to review it objectively.
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7/10
Clearly the BFI had a copy stashed away
christopher-underwood29 February 2020
This obscure Peter Sellers film directed by himself begins poorly. We are introduced to the self righteous small town schoolteacher, played by Sellers, and it seems to go on and on without being amusing, or if occasionally vaguely amusing, certainly not funny. An amazingly young Billie Whitelaw doesn't help, seeming unable to rid herself of her theatrical bent. And here perhaps lies the basic problem in that this was a stage play and much of the activity would have probably been acceptable on the stage whereas it probably needed someone with greater experience than Sellers to shake this up and give it more life. As it happens things are never as bad as at the start and gradually things get less bad. By the very end we have a gloriously presented Sellers in complete cynic mode ready to go and it ends. Masses of extras n the Blu-ray and the prospect of seeing it again without fear of it sinking into the mire make me look back just a little more favourably and feel a bit sorry for Sellers who apparently felt so bad at the films reception that he thought he had bought up all copies and destroyed them. Clearly the BFI had a copy stashed away.
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6/10
Not as bad as many, including Sellers himself, believed it to be.
MOscarbradley10 June 2021
The only film that Peter Sellers ever directed was this comedy set in the Paris of the not-too-distant past and based on a Marcel Pagnol play that was filmed several times before, though this version, produced and written by Pierre Rouve, is chock full of well-known English character actors pretending they're French. In hindsight, it might feel like a strange choice for Sellers' directorial debut, and sole effort, but at least he's got the plum title role of "Mr. Topaze". A mild-mannered and scrupulously honest school master who loses his job because he won't give a rich man's son a better grade. As it happens, said rich man, (Herbert Lom), is also a crook who then employs Sellers to act as a 'front man' for his crooked business.

It's shot in Cinemascope which doesn't really suit the material but on the plus side those character actors do throw themselves into the very old-fashioned material but it's certainly never as funny as it thinks it is. Sellers reputedly hated it, so much so that he tried to have all the prints bought up. It's not a bad film as such and at best it might be described as a curiosity and so out of step with other comedies of its time, it is, at least, of more than passing interest but ultimately it's that supporting cast, (Leo McKern, Lom, Michael Gough, Martita Hunt, John Neville and a surprisingly good Nadia Gray), that saves it. It might have been better with a different director, (Sellers was clearly not up to the job). I suppose you could call it a cult movie and now that it's resurfaced maybe you should seek it out.
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10/10
Peter Sellers' forgotten film
num-num5 December 2000
A few know that Peter Sellers once-apart from starring-directed a film! This was "Mr.Topaze" or "I Like money"(as it was screened by that name in the US). Actually, it is not a masterpiece, but not a poor film too, as the reviews of its time claimed. Peter plays a naive teacher, a man of spirit who is corrupted by money and power. What is very interesting is that the film has quite many "serious" moments and Peter depicts the teacher with accuracy. What's more, the film's finale isn't comic at all. Pity this film was never released on VHS on DVD(but it is never too late, is it?)!
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10/10
Enjoyable watch
Bogus-28 May 2020
I have no idea whether Seller's ever directed any other film. I just enjoy this one, and it's totally forgotten now, which is sad.
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10/10
Enjoyable watch
josealva781 June 2020
It's maybe not a masterpiece, but it surely is an enjoyable watch.
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10/10
Maaaaaan....
craigthomasas1 June 2020
So, Sellers is not only an amazing actor, but also succesful as a director...Not surprised. What a talented chap! Sadly, the film is not as popular as it deserves to be.
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10/10
:)
bryannowak2 June 2020
Cute little movie full of truth. More people need to see this, especially educators.
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10/10
A joy to watch
scottjames-3956723 June 2020
This is truly a very interesting film. It's not a masterpiece, but it's worth watching this film if you like Peter Sellers.
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10/10
Great film
champeauarthur27 June 2020
I love this film very much. Found it recently on youtube and imagine my joy.
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