The Unknown Peter Sellers Cover Do you like a laugh? A really-really big laugh. Just to expunge your innermost feelings. What? You don't? Then there's something wrong with you, pal. Go to a doctor or something. Or better yet, why don't you watch this 55-minute documentary made in 2000 by some chap about some other chap. Go on. It's funny.

The Unknown Peter Sellers

Do you want to know more about the legendary British comedian, Peter Sellers? I hope so. Because this one hour narrator driven documentary recounts the life and performances of this one time classic comic.

On offer are numerous interviews with a few of Peter's comedic cohorts. Such as his fellow ‘Goon’, Harry Secombe, his on screen co-stars, David Lodge and Shirley McLaine, his directors, Dick Lester and Joseph McGrath, plus a hand full of his supporters too: Michael Palin, Alexander Walker, and David Frost.

There's also a number of Peter’s works on display throughout this feature. Where his earlier stuff is concerned, there's his 'Goon Show' radio shenanigans, his television outings on ‘Son of Fred’ and ‘Idiot Weekly Price 1d’, plus his fledgling movie career in the Bolting films and the self made ‘Running, Jumping, and Standing Still’ short. Furthermore, where Peters more larger scale movies are concerned, there's the likes of ‘I’m All Right Jack’, ‘Battle of the Sexes’, the 'Pink Panther' films, plus his greatest Hollywood achievement, ‘Dr. Strangelove’.

Oh! And of course. Peters advertisements for Barclays Bank and TWA respectively.

Now apart from recounting Peters antics in front of the camera, this documentary also manages to chronicle his path towards stardom at the same time. This initially began at an early age, when Peter's Mother ushered him onto the stage with her during an act she was performing. Then, during his teenage years, Peter was a drummer in the Army, rhythmically pounding away on something entitled ‘The Gang Show’. After the army, Peter started to tout his vocal talents in a couple of sleazy dives in the west end, only reaching prominence with Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe in the 'Goon Show' radio hour.

However, nine years later, when the 'Goon Show' finally ended, that's when he started his visual career. Strangely enough, this took him from 'bit player' to 'high profile actor' in the Hollywood set, then all the way back down again, when he suddenly suffered a series of heart attacks, changing his perspective on life and plummeting his career into a downward spiral.

Only for a short while, of course...

In my own humble opinion, I'd say that 'The Unknown Peter Sellers' merely touched upon Peter's roller-coaster ride of a life and performances. It’s nothing too in depth in nature, and just presents a basic run down on his career, plus a little bit more knowledge about the visual stepping stones in the way that his life progressed throughout the ages.

The Pink Panther

Peter Sellers The First Man On Playboy Magazine
Hey! I don't want to sound overly critical about this piece, folks. It does have some rather memorable movie excerpts which I haven't seen before. Especially his earlier television work, his self made ‘budget’ films, and some unreleased movies as well.

Yet, in the same breath, I'm afraid to say there wasn't anything too expansive to delve into who Peter truly was as a person, or how his personal life developed, or floundered, along the way.

I myself see 'The Unknown Peter Sellers' as the type of documentary that may urge you to pick up a book about Peter, just so that you can get to know a bit more about him through novels and such. Also, there are a number of good and respected personages who comment on Peter and his life.

Granted, some are very sentimental with what they say, like David Lodge and Shirley McClain for instance. Whilst others are quite insightful and profound, like Joseph McGrath, Harry Secombe, and Alexander Walker. Please note though, this is not to imply that any of the interviewees come across as overly dramatic in any way shape or form. But rather, reminiscent within their own recounts.

Peter Sellers and Third Wife
To illustrate what I mean by 'The Unknown Peter Sellers' lacking in content, here, please check out some of the facts it missed out on: (1) Peter did a duet with Sophia Loren in 1960 because of their film 'The Millionairess'. Plus Peter once insinuated that he had an affair with her during this time. (2) In 1957 Peter had some musical success with the song, 'Any Old Iron', and in 1965 performed a cover version of the Beatles song, 'A Hard Days Night'. (3) For services to Drama, Peter was awarded the CBE in 1966. (4) He was the first actor to be nominated for an Academy Award portraying three parts in the same film, 'Dr Strangelove'. (5) Peter was a vegetarian. (6) His third wife, Miranda Quarry, is now "The Countess of Stockton". (6) Peter was the first male to ever appear on the cover of Playboy Magazine, published in April,1964. (7) Blake Edwards considered him for the Dudley Moore role for the film, '10', and Mel Brooks considered him for the Gene Wilder role for the film, 'The Producers'. Yet nothing ever manifested itself. (8) Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, and Prince Charles are all big fans of Mr Sellers, and hold his type of humor in very high esteem. (9) He was an amateur photographer and camera specialist. (10) Peter served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, and was said to have sired an illegitimate son during this period. (11) His father was Protestant and his mother was Jewish. (12) Peter died a few days after filming a "Barclays Bank" commercial that never aired. Moreover, he was also supposed to star in 'Romance of the Pink Panther' within the near future. (13) Peter claimed that he saw heaven after a near death experience during a heart attack he had. (14) Peter was interred at Golders Green Crematorium, London, England, plus his real name wasn't Peter, it was Richard [check here to find out more].

Old Picture Of Peter Sellers

See what I mean, folks? It was a rather nice documentary that wasn't very elaborate in its content. What a shame. What a bloody shame. Peter is a comedic hero of mine, and it always pains me to say something negative about his works. Still. Never mind, huh? There's plenty more fish in the sea. Right Pete?

Ha! What a guy!


THE UNKNOWN PETER SELLERS THE UNKNOWN PETER SELLERS Reviewed by David Andrews on November 18, 2013 Rating: 5
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