More good news from Film Movement: They have unveiled (and released on DVD) Mr. Topaze, Peter Sellers’ long-lost 1961 directorial debut, newly-restored in 2K from the last surviving 35mm print held in the BFI National Archive.
Albert Topaze (played by Sellers), a poor but proud French schoolmaster, loses his job after he refuses to alter the failing grades of one of his students. Seizing the opportunity to exploit his honesty, actress Suzy Courtois (Nadia Gray) convinces her lover, the corrupt city council member Castel Benac (Herbert Lom), to hire Topaze as a managing director for one of his shady businesses.
Sellers‘ lone directorial effort, Mr. Topaze displays the British comic genius at the peak of his powers alongside his future Pink Panther nemesis Herbert Lom and a stellar supporting cast that includes Leo McKern, Billie Whitelaw and Michael Gough. Long considered a “lost” classic, MR. TOPAZE was digitally restored in 2K from the last surviving 35mm prints held in the BFI National Archive.
In his newly-written essay included in the Film Movement Classics release, Roger Lewis, author of The Life and Death of Peter Sellers writes: “In my opinion we are only now beginning to wake up to Sellers‘ unique qualities as a performer, and the rediscovery of Mr. Topaze will aid this reassessment. It is a film of which Jacques Tati might be proud. It is as good as any of the later Chaplin efforts, Limelight or A Countess from Hong Kong. It is a scandal that it was lost for so long.”
- Let’s Go Crazy (1951) – a madcap short film starring Peter Sellers and his Goon Show co-star Spike Milligan
- The Poetry of Realism (2019) – Kat Ellinger video essay on auteur Marcel Pagnol, the playwright of Topaze
- Abigail McKern Interview (2019) – Leo McKern’s daughter discusses her father’s life and career
- 24-page booklet with notes on the film’s rediscovery by BFI curator Vic Pratt and a new essay by Roger Lewis