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PETER SELLERS ENDS WITH 'THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU'

Artwork for THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU Year: 1980
What Peter Sellers' final motion picture, THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU, has in common with his most popular franchise, THE PINK PANTHER, is that both parody James Bond: Especially 1976's PINK PANTHER STRIKES AGAIN, so over-the-top similar to the Roger Moore outings that MANCHU feels like a homage of a homage. But there's also the Christopher Lee MANCHU b-flicks and before that, Boris Karloff...

Sellers was obviously a fan of both as this was he and trophy wife Lynne Frederick's labor-of-love going through several directors, which shows since many overlong scenes lack any direction at all wherein, as usual, Sellers plays several roles, particularly pulp author Sax Rohmer's Tong-lord supervillain and his dogged Scotland Yard investigator Nayland Smith. In both parts, Sellers, who died not long after production wrapped, seems too old and tired to not only pull off genuinely humorous performances but to move along an already convoluted and sometimes downright confusing story (one particular scheme involving an obese guard of a British diamond is a time-wasting mess)...

Peter Sellers and mower in Fu Manchu Rating: **1/2
But he's not alone since Disney staple David Tomlinson, comic icon Sid Caesar and Peter's THE PARTY co-star Steve Franken are all along for a very crowded venture, consisting of Smith and company following several heists led by the 168-year-old kingpin, who, while lecturing his Chinese underlings, needs eclectic ingredients of an elixir to keep him both youthful and living.

Meanwhile, Helen Mirren, starting out with the good guys and winding up Fu's mistress, looks sexy and voluptuous (at first impersonating The Queen of England, ironically) and tries hard to inject some sincere class into the proceedings...

But by the time Smith's country cottage becomes a hot air balloon there's a feeling that mainstream laughter wasn't the intention to all the frantic, zany bedlam, more channeling the surrealistic Monty Python troupe (originally inspired by Sellers' The Goon Show), including bizarre gags like Smith being inseparable to a lawnmower. Instead, FU MANCHU is an insanely busy spectacle that perhaps audiences were supposed to just go with and enjoy the nonsensical ride, which can be both horribly torturous and guiltily infectious — sometimes simultaneously. As for the multi-talented, legendary, fan-beloved Mr. Sellers, this Swan Song is more of an Ugly Duckling Lullaby.
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers with Steve Frankin, Sid Caesar and David Tomlinson
THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Peter Sellers in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU with Helen Mirren
Title sequence for THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Lynne Frederick's trophy wife credit for THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU
Peter Sellers channels Elvis in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR FU MANCHU
The flying cottage in THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR FU MANCHU
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