HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Teddy
Beasts Clawing at Straws
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Windom's Way
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, The Sna-Fu
Year: 1980
Director: Piers Haggard
Stars: Peter Sellers, Helen Mirren, David Tomlinson, Sid Caesar, Simon Williams, David Franken, Stratford Johns, John Le Mesurier, John Sharp, Clément Harari, Kwan Young-Lee, John Tan, Philip Tan, Serge Julien, Johns Rajohnson, Clive Dunn, Burt Kwouk
Genre: Comedy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Somewhere around 1933, and in a remote area of China the strains of a pipe organ can be heard drifting over the Himalayas. They are emanating from a castle in the mountains which is the lair of Fu Manchu (Peter Sellers) and it is he who is playing the organ, which turns into a rendition of Happy Birthday to You because Fu is one hundred-and-eighty-six today. This calls for a celebration, and he has assembled his henchmen to applaud him and witness him taking the elixir of life, which is brought in by a familiar face (Burt Kwouk) who manages to set his sleeve on fire and puts it out with the precious liquid. What can the evil mastermind do now to prolong his existence?

There is a tradition of movie stars having their last big screen work being one of the worst things they ever appeared in, and for Peter Sellers his Fu Manchu spoof, a Playboy production no less, was little different. It would be nice for any of those celebrities to go out on a high, and the reasons they don't are many, but for him they were very specific: he was a very sick man when he made this, both physically and mentally, and simply was not operating at his best. Recommended to give acting a rest for the sake of his health, he did not heed the doctors' warnings and watching him here you could see he was visibly frail, only sparking into life fitfully.

Therefore it was all too appropriate that his character in this should be desperately trying to find a way to extend his life through arcane means, because Sellers could have done with a magic potion himself. And also, he was his own worst enemy, for he sacked three directors in the process of making his final bow, being so difficult to work with that the production not only became subject to a list of impediments when he wanted to reshoot and rewrite it, but also having to take time off to recuperate from whatever latest stress he suffered in the shooting. Piers Haggard was finally credited as director, but really the faults of this sad little entry into a fascinating career would rest on Sellers' stooped shoulders.

It did offer an insight into where the comedian thought he would be able to get laughs, and given he was close to, or fully immersed in, madness when he made this it does offer the work a ghoulish quality apart from the obvious tired and drawn appearance of Sellers. It was clear the cast were willing to indulge him, but the final result was downright weird in places, yet not weird enough to prompt laughter, more an uncomfortable silence. He played Fu Manchu's nemesis as well, Nayland Smith, the joke being that both men were too elderly to justify continuing their past achievements: more uneasily close to the truth elements, and having Smith's best friend be his lawnmower was more sad and depressing than anything chucklesome. Surreal maybe, but that doesn't alone mean funny.

Among the cast was Helen Mirren who played the police constable recruited to impersonate the Queen for security reasons (hmm...); she auditions by playing the saxophone (miming, really), tapdancing and singing On the Good Ship Lollipop, though not all at the same time. In a hard to believe development she becomes Fu's love interest at his Himalayan fortress, but then there was a lot about this that was tough to contemplate, not to mention blatant evidence this was a work of a man not in his right mind as bizarre situation follows bizarre situation with nary a giggle to be found. Also appearing were TV legend Sid Caesar whose style utterly fails to mesh with the airless humour here, and David Tomlinson whose last film this was as well, a commendably stable characterisation. While this held a certain grimly compelling quality, it understandably never found a solid foundation, its racial caricatures were embarrassing, and it didn't so much end as grind to a halt - with an Oriental Elvis Presley. Music by Marc Wilkinson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3386 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Piers Haggard  (1939 - )

British director who works mostly in television, with the classic serial Pennies from Heaven to his credit; he also directed the final Quatermass series. On the big screen, his best work is the creepy devil worship horror Blood On Satan's Claw. Other films include (some of) Peter Sellers' terrible last appearance, The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu, and snake-on-the-loose thriller Venom. He is a relation of novelist H. Rider Haggard.

 
Review Comments (2)
Posted by:
Andrew Pragasam
Date:
4 Feb 2013
  A sorry end for one of the greatest comic actors of our time and a personal hero of mine. I've heard the bulk of this was directed by Sellers himself, adding this to his secret closet of co-directing credits along with The Bobo. Oddly his one film as director, Mr. Topaze, remains arguably his most obscure.

Had Sellers heeded his doctor's advice and given this a miss, his next film would have been Unfaithfully Yours opposite Nastassja Kinski. I like to think that would have perked him up.
       
Posted by:
Graeme Clark
Date:
4 Feb 2013
  Sellers also had another Clouseau movie lined up (possibly without Blake Edwards), but it was not to be. Oddly, two of Dudley Moore's eighties vehicles were ex-Sellers projects, including the Unfaithfully Yours remake. Both were box office disasters anyway.

One thing you can say about this: you can read a lot of Sellers' personality into it and indulge in pop psychology as to where his faltering mind was at during its making seeing as how most of the material was his own. The lawnmower business is especially forlorn.
       


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: