JG: "Bobby Short ,why did you change your name from Martin?"
MS:"No Bobby Short is someone else. A singer actually. African American. "
JG: "That was going to be my next question. Were you inspired by Jacko to bleach your skin? Do you feel white is the new black?"
MS: "I'm not Bobby Short. I'm Martin Short. I was born Martin Short."
JG:(A patronizing pat on Martin's knee) "Work it out on your own time, dear. Now, about this movie of yours---I JUST LOVED IT. 'Jiminy Glick ' searching his memory-looks down at his cheat-sheet-'In LaLaWood!' It's sad and funny. Bittersweet, without much substance and a threadbare story who's sole purpose is to hang little bits of comic business with a few interviews thrown in. Not a very good movie, BUT I LOVED IT! Bobby, thanks for being yewww."
MS: "It's Martin. You know, I've always wanted to put Jiminy Glick in a feature"
JG:"No time, dear. We have to move on."
Such a rich and varied life would lend itself to a miniseries but of course it would be a copout to suggest that at least a glimmer into the life of a man couldn't be done successfully within two hours. What this movie drove home for me was how terribly short the human lifespan really is, and how little time we have to truly discover ourselves and come to terms with our own frailties. I felt that the basis of Sellers unhappiness, which manifested itself in inexcusable cruelty to his family, friends and co-workers, was a direct result of his childhood, which was never really addressed in this film. It was, in his own words to Michael Parkinson, not a very happy time in his life. Growing up in the theater circuit, being in the company of boozy and abusive 'theatricals', and being raised by a domineering mother and what I gather was a rather passive and emotionally unavailable father set the stage for a man who obviously felt deprived of the things that give us self-esteem and confidence. No one in his adult life could give him the things he should've received from his parents as a child, and he took out that frustration on those closest to him.
Also interesting were the glimpses of his fellow Goons (Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe) at various chapters in his life-in the church at his mother's funeral, in the crowd at the premiere of 'The Pink Panther'. They represented what he considered the happiest time of his life and they were a constant presence, flitting in an out of his life at key moments in the film, like the ghosts of Christmas Past.
Interesting also in how one decision, in this case his delusional infatuation with Sophia Loren, set in motion a series of dovetailing mistakes in his life, which took him further and further away from a relatively healthy existence. He had twenty years more to live and it turned out to be not enough time to turn things around.
But the film is interesting in its moralizing about straying husbands and a wife's duty to spice up the marriage, considering DeMille's own unsatisfactory marriage and philandering ways. Setting the second half aboard a Zeppelin with its sinking ship analogies probably seemed very modern at the time, and it is interesting to note that even six years before the Hindenburg disaster, a Hollywood movie exploits the inherent danger to such a mode of transportation. Perhaps with a really sparkling script by a master screenwriter such as Robert Riskin, and more luminous leads, this could have been a major delight instead of a trifle.