Monday, May 24, 2021

The Pink Panther Goes West?

 Actor Peter Sellers almost made two British westerns in Spain, one in 1962 and the other in 1973 (a biographical film on Pancho Villa).

...Sellers had just made the Kubrick film “Lolita” (June 1962), became bankable, and was offered “Dr. Strangelove” (January 1964), while “Heavens Above” was re-written to better suit his new found aspirations and shot locally as a social-biting drama-comedy (May 1963). So, a mock western in Spain, as Variety summed it up, was out of the question.

Still, audiences missed out on seeing him as 'a Minister who is accidentally appointed to a snobbish parish' in Old Mexico (c 1910 ?), and all its comical possibilities?

Career wise for all concerned the rewrite was probably the correct move. That cinematic setting would have to wait a decade until American born-British based Producer Josef Shaftel wanted him for his second "Historical Assassination" film, “The Life and Assassination of Pancho Villa” (1972-73), following the critical success-but box-office failure of Joseph Losey's “The Assassination of Trotsky” (February 1972). While waiting on the Villa film to get the go-ahead, Sellers appeared in Shaftel's version of “Alice's Adventures in Wonderland” (November 1972) as the March Hare.

He finally got to work with Billy Wilder on “Kiss Me Stupid” (December 1964), but he never got to do his version of “I, Claudius”, it was also to be for UA.... In between all these films a mischievous Pink Panther was sighted circling around him and managed to engulf his career and send it in even more interesting, but repetitive directions.


Submitted by Michael Ferguson

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