Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Night Tomfoolery (6)

Richard Henry Sellers (known as Peter to all and sundry) was born in 1925 and died in 1980. During those 55 years he became one of the Western world's best known comedians. In 2005 he was voted as the 14th top comedian but fellow comedians.

My previous Tomfoolery referred to his work as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther movies, however his comedic work extended to radio, live performances and a variety of movie and television roles. I'll be looking at only a few of his works. This is a random selection and you'll note that I have not kept to any chronological (or any other) order. I hope this doesn't serve to confuse.

In the sixties, Peter Sellers produced a number of Beatles songs, covered using various accents, mostly in spoken word. Included in these are Can't Buy Me Love, She Loves You - both Irish and German, but my favourite, and probably the best known is Hard Day's Night, in the style of Laurence Olivier's interpretation of Richard III:

From the Beatles I am jumping forward to one of last works, on The Muppet Show (future Tomfoolery gold in them thar Muppet Shows!). Peter Sellers appeared on the Episode 43 in 1978, as various characters, including Inspector Clouseau, a viking, a gypsy violinist and a hillbilly.

Parts 1 and 3 can be found here and here. Here is the middle section of that show.

In 1969 he teamed up with Ringo Starr in The Magic Christian, a satirical story about how money can indeed buy everything. The movie is noted for the large supporting cast of household names (John Cleese, Spike Milligan, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Lee, Yul Brynner, Raquel Welch, Roman Polanski and Graham Chapman, just to name a few). Here is a scene found on Youtube with John, Peter and Ringo:

In 1958 The Best of Sellers came out as an LP (for all my younger readers please refer to your parents as to what an LP is, or was). Included on this album are the following two tracks: The Trumpet Volunteer - an interview with rock star Tommy Iron, and Party Political Speech - showing that political speeches haven't changed a great deal since 1958.

FUN FACT NO. 1: Peter Sellers was the first male (and one of only 3) to appear on the front cover of Playboy magazine. This was back in April 1964.

Between 1951 and 1960 Peter Sellers, together with Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Michael Bentine created and appeared on The Goon Show originally heard on the BBC. A mixture of brilliant nonsensical humour, astonishing accents and bizarre sound effects were the hallmarks of this show. The Goon Show inspired later comedic artists and groups including Peter Cook, Monty Python and, surprisingly, The Beatles.

Here are just a couple of items from the Goon Show. The first is - What's the Time Eccles? - with Sellers as Bluebottle (?) and Milligan as Eccles.

And here is The Yeti - Part 1. Part 2 can be heard here.

Other stories from the Goon Show that can be found on YouTube include King Solomon's Mines, The Siege of Fort Knight, The String Robberies, and Ned's Atomic Dustbin.

There are so many other works that can be included here, including his Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangeglove, the much acclaimed Being There, his last movie The Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu, or his serious role in Lolita. I will finish tonight with some scenes from one of my favourite Peter Sellers' movies, The Party. There is a very "late sixties" feel to this movie, it involves an elephant and a massive pool party, music by Henry Mancini and Sellers in the role of Hrundi V. Bakshi, "a bungling Indian actor accidentally gets invited to a lavish Hollyood Dinner party and "makes terrible mistakes based upon ignorance of Western ways (from a quote in Wikipedia). The first scene I have is essentially the opening of the movie as Bakshi ruins a large set piece being filmed in the style of Gunga Din:

The second and third are the famous Birdy Num Num scenes (there are a couple):

And the final is the baby elephant in the pool scene. This leads us to next week's Tomfoolery on elephants on Youtube.

Have a good week.

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