From the roaring 1920s to the ruinous Spanish Civil War and Adolf Hitler's rise into power, the lives of an Irish schoolteacher, a provocative heiress and her Spanish muse are intricately interlaced, sharing the same destiny and passion.
The professional and personal life of actor and comedian Peter Sellers was a turbulent one. His early movie fame was based primarily on his comic characterizations, often of bumbling and foreign-accented persons, characters which he embodied. As his movie fame rose, he began to lose his own personal identity to his movie characters, leading to self-doubt of himself as a person and a constant need for reassurance and acceptance of his work. This self-doubt manifested itself in fits of anger and what was deemed as arrogance by many. In turn, his personal relationships began to deteriorate as his characterizations were continually used to mask his problems. His first wife, Anne Howe, left/divorced him and his relationships with his parents and children became increasingly distant. His relationship with his second wife, Swedish actress Britt Ekland, was based on this mask. In his later life, he tried to rediscover himself and his career with what would become his penultimate film role, ...Written by
In one shot of a cinema marquee, a poster for The Blockhouse (1973) is visible, advertising Sellers as one of "Eight men trapped in a bunker." Below Sellers' name appear those of six of Sellers' seven co-stars. The missing name? Peter Vaughan, who plays Sellers' father in this film. See more »
In the scene where Blake Edwards is banging on the trailer door to get Sellers onto the set of "The Pink Panther Strikes again", Sellers is lying on the floor of the trailer in the costume with the blow-up Parrot on his shoulder, that was only worn in: "The Revenge of the Pink Panther", his last movie with Edwards. See more »
The frame freezes and the end credits start. After some informations about the last part of life of Peter Sellers have scrolled up the screen, the credits stop and the camera suddenly pulls back, revealing Geoffrey Rush watching the end titles sitting in front of a monitor on a studio set. He turns toward the camera, waves, gets up, leaves the set and walks to a trailer. The camera tries to follow him inside, but he turns and says "You can't come in here". The door closes, and the camera zooms in on the sign with the name "Peter Sellers". The film again fades to black and we see the rest of the end credits. See more »
The BBC broadcast a version with some scenes rearranged, some scenes shortened and a few other edits:
The montage of Peter Sellers' earlier films is cut together with the scene where he moves into a big new house with Anne and the children. Also the song 'I Haven't Told Her, She Hasn't Told Me' sung by Peter is played instead of Frank Sinatra's 'Fly Me to the Moon'.
The first Maurice Woodruff scene and the car showroom scene are moved ahead to after Peter's father's death scene, swapping places with the scene where he phones Harry Secombe asking if he wants to come over for a beer. The car showroom scene also replaces the Shirley Bassey song 'Big Spender' with incidental music composed for the film.
The first Maurice Woodruff scene begins with a shot of Peter smoking a cigarette in the waiting room before cutting to a shot of Woodruff's book, which is where this scene begins in the original version.
The Harry Secombe phone call scene is shortened, cutting out the bit where Peter tells his son to go to his room.
A shot of Peter as Dr. Strangelove saying "Boom" is added after the Dr. Strangelove filming scenes.
Peter and Britt Ekland's wedding reception scene is shortened slightly, the shots of the children on the carousel are cut out.
The scene where Peter drives Britt to the hospital to give birth is shortened, cutting out footage of the car going past a church, pulling out in front of another car and Peter telling Britt to keep breathing.
The very brief scene of Peter seeing a plastic surgeon followed by shots of him in a makeup chair and taking pills is cut out.
The scene where Maurice Woodruff tries to get Peter to do another Pink Panther film is shortened, the bit where he channels Peter's mother and tells him to do the film is cut out. Also a different take is used when Maurice gets out the film script, instead of saying "Are you absolutely sure about that?", he says "Are you sure about that?".
The scene of Peter in his trailer dressed as the old salty sea dog is moved back to in between the scenes of him agreeing to make The Pink Panther Strikes Again and the film's premiere, making it look as if this character is part of that film when actually he appears in Revenge of the Pink Panther. In the original version this scene takes place later on, after a shot of Peter picking up a Revenge of the Pink Panther script. Whereas this version changes this shot to show a Being There script.
The scene of Peter in character as Blake Edwards is shortened. The line at the end of the scene "What did he do after me? The only thing he never gave up on" is cut out.
The montage of Peter doing character preparation for Being There and burning his old movie stuff is arranged differently. The overlaid shots of him doing The Goon Show and playing Strangelove, Clouseau are removed, although a shot of him burning a photo of President Merkin Muffley and a shot of the Being There novel in his pocket are added.
In the first shot of Blake Edwards waiting for Peter at the restaurant, instead of starting with a close up of the script for The Romance of the Pink Panther and cutting just before a waiter pours water into a glass, it starts with the water pouring into the glass, using a different part of this same take.
At the ending, when after the closing text it zooms out to show Peter watching it on a monitor and getting up to go to his trailer after which the end credits roll, this version inserts after the text another shot of Peter standing in the snow, then the cast list rolls before the zoom out to Peter watching it on a monitor. Also in this version The Kinks' song 'A Well Respected Man' starts playing as Peter gets up to go to his trailer, in the original version incidental music is played here instead and 'A Well Respected Man' doesn't start playing until the credits roll.
I didn't expect this biography to be so interesting but, then, I didn't know a lot about Peter Sellers' private life except for his marriage to Swedish beauty Britt Ekland. One thing that made this more interesting to me was that I grew up in Sellers' era in the '50s through '70s and was familiar with all his films.
Sellers obviously led a strange life or they wouldn't have made a movie about it. I expected what I got: a look at a great film comedian but also a disturbed person underneath the comic image, one that wasn't so funny. Modern films (those since the late '60s) seem to almost sadistically delight in showing a famous person's bad points, more than his or her good. Thus, for many people, this probably wasn't a pleasant film to watch. However, I didn't mind because I found Geoffrey Rush's acting so good, his portrayal of Sellers so credible and fascinating, that I could put up with some of the not-so-much fun to watch scenes. I don't think the latter was overemphasized, anyway.
Watching this film, I thought what a tragic figure was Sellers' mother "Peg," played memorably by Miriam Margolyes. This actress gets almost no billing because she's isn't well- known and that's a pity because she is very good in here. In fact, she's the second "star" of this film. After that comes Charlize Theron as the aforementioned Ekland, Emily Watson as Sellers' first wife "Anne;" John Lithgow as "Blake Edwards," Stanley Tucci as "Stanley Kubrick," and other fine actors.
All the actors were excellent but this is still Rush's film. He dominates almost every scene, reminding me of his first big hit, "Shine."
Overall, this is an interesting biography. Kudos to director Stephen Hopkins for a job well done, too.
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