Friday, March 20, 2015
I Lay There in Pain but I Love It.
Peter Sellers is still a Super Star in our house. Ironically...maybe poetically, it was his absentee role in Trail of the Pink Panther that solidified his status with the Boy. I have always loved him. First, because he made my Daddy laugh...put him in stitches. Being little, few things brought me more joy than watching him writhe around in his chair...gasping and cackling, hands on his stomach, eyes welling...and then the high pitched "haaaaaaw....ohhhhhh."
"Do you have a massage for me?" He'd repeat to himself and be right back in tears. Magic.
Of course, as I got older and the jokes began to reveal themselves...I had my own troubles staying upright. Older still and the complicated nature that he brought to those roles...the subtly he imbued them with...reveal an absolute genius. Clare Quilty in Kubrick's Lolita....
So sleazy....Him and Natasha Fatale there...it might be my favorite exchange of dialogue ever filmed. Then there's Dr. Strangelove. How easily could this character have spiraled out of control...even in capable hands.
When he grabs his right arm and pulls it forward to bring the wheelchair back around...just kills me.
As comedy it's brilliant but there's also something profound in the grotesque nature of it. Never mind the wicked things these old Nazis had done or the highly dubious use of them in the U.S. defense department...what must it have been like in the minds of these f****ers after 1945? Moody I reckon. They had literally sold their souls for a future that was never coming. What a demented existence. It's there in Seller's performance...without breaking the tone of the film, there's something horrifying in the absurdity. .
Just for giggles...he's also playing the president in that scene.
I guess his own existence was slightly demented. I hope some of that has been exaggerated. There's a ridiculous romance attached to the tortured artist, the sad clown but, of course, there's nothing romantic about mental anguish. He does seem to have been genuinely disturbed. Abusing the poppers and cocaine surely didn't help and four marriages would be enough to put anybody in early grave...never mind somebody with a lousy heart.
All of that's over now and what's left is a brilliant legacy...the Goon Show, The Mouse that Roared, Being There, The Magic Christian, I'm All Right Jack, etc...making my son giggle uncontrollably and my Daddy laugh until he cried. I love Peter Sellers...a genius that's all.