By Alex Purnell. The Ghost Of Peter Sellers: Review – There’s something gripping about a shipwreck.
Ghost in the Noonday Sun is an uncomplete 1973 film directed by Hungarian film director Peter Medak, starring un-arguably the biggest name in comedy at that time, Pink Panther and Dr. Strangelove star Peter Sellers. The film, written by Spike Milligan and Evan Jones, had a disastrous production, ill-fated from the get-go. The slapstick pirate comedy was to be filmed partly at sea though it was poorly produced, under-funded, under-scheduled and with the notoriously difficult Sellers as the lead, it was a behemoth of a project headed for a rocky-outcrop.
43 years on, director Peter Medak gives us a retrospective view of the infamous film.
Following how Ghost in the Noonday Sun’s production spanned out, The Ghost of Peter Sellers feels more like a disaster movie, with Medak at the helm for the documentary, it’s a long-form meta explanation of the events that occurred upon and off the shore of Cyprus in 1973 from the perspective of the productions struggling director.
Peter Medak’s therapeutic look at one of the darkest points in his career is a fascinating watch, not only for a historical viewpoint from that era of film but also as an insider perspective of the relationship between Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Peter Medak. Sellers, who sabotaged and mentally switched off during the production, is seen through the eyes of Medak not with hate, though. Despite Sellers consistently attempting to seemingly undermine and remove Medak from the production, Medak now instead embraces the late Sellers with care and admiration, taking into account his physical and mental wellbeing.
The doc is both parts humorous and sorrowful, Medak’s approach to re-visiting the film that very nearly ruined his career seems to come from a very genuine desire to heal from the ordeal that still haunts him to this day. The process the cast and crew reportedly went through was nothing less than traumatic, and Medak shares his mixed bag of emotions.
The back and forth of Peter vs. Peter seemed to go on forever, from Sellers reportedly faking a heart attack and returning home mid-shoot to go out partying and even Sellers attempting a coup on the production in an attempt to replace Medak. The two sat down after the film was done and reconciled over booze, with Sellers telling Medak how much he admired and loved him. This was the last time the two spoke, as Sellers died of a heart attack in 1980.
The Ghost of Peter Sellers is a look back upon Medak’s most torturous production, a moment of clarity and healing, though it manages to look back at this time not only in a negative light but manages to manifest memories of happiness and laughter, lots and lots of laughter.
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