Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Overlooked Movies -- The Mouse that Roared

As I mentioned last week, I hadn't seen many British movies by the time I went to college.  No VCRs, much less DVD players in those days, and the three or four TV channels we got in the little town of Mexia, Texas, didn't show a lot of British films.  Or any.  So part of my college education consisted of seeing movies like none I'd seen before, and those included The Mouse that Roared.  Okay, it's not even a British movie, but it does star Peter Sellers, so that makes it British enough for me.  (I was surprised to learn that the movie was directed by Jack Arnold, who directed many of my favorites from my younger days, including The Creature from the Black Lagoon, which is, as you might guess, quite different from this one.)

The plot is simple.  The tiny (almost microscopic) Duchy of Grand Fenwick is facing bankruptcy, so why not declare war on the United States, lose, and get a bunch of foreign aid?  Why not, indeed?  Except that the Duchy wins the war, and the U. S. is conquered.  Complications ensue.

I thought it was hilarious.  It's not as slapsticky as Carry On, Nurse, though at times it comes close.  I was amazed at the performances of Peter Sellers (three roles), of whom I'm sure I'd never heard before.  And while I'd seen Milton Berle in drag on TV (a stunt that never failed to reduce my mother to tears of laughter), I'd never seen anybody pull it off like Sellers.  It's just masterful, and so funny I probably laughed as much as my mother did at Uncle Miltie.  And he's great in the other two roles, too.  And then there's Jean Seberg.  She's lovely and lively, and it's sad to see her here and think of her ending.

I've never read the novel that the movie is based on, but I have a copy here somewhere.  I think I'll read it one of these days.


Brett Battles said...

I remember seeing this on TV as a kid in the 70s. Loved it so much that every time I knew it would be on, I would try to watch it. A fun film, indeed.

Unknown said...

I grin just thinking about some of Sellers' scenes.

Ron Scheer said...

Strange as it may seem, this movie did make it to Grand Island, Nebraska, where I'm sure I saw it back in 1959, the year I graduated from high school. It was a little off-kilter and just barely amusing for my unsophisticated taste back then. Haven't seen it since, but I'm willing to bet I'd be tickled by it.