Mouse That Roared, The (1959)

“In other words, gentlemen — in effect — we declare war on Monday, we are defeated by Tuesday, and by Friday we will be rehabilitated beyond our wildest dreams!”

Synopsis:
The prime minister (Peter Sellers) of the smallest nation on Earth (ruled by the Grand Duchess Gloriana, also Sellers) decides to invade the United States in order to receive millions of dollars in reparation aid. His plans are foiled, however, when his military leader, Tully Bascombe (also Sellers), accidentally gets ahold of a dangerous Q-bomb, and the United States surrenders.

Genres:

Review:
This classic Cold War comedy (based on a novel by Leonard Wibberley) has dated a bit since its release nearly fifty years ago, but nonetheless remains a humorous look at international diplomatic relations post-WWII. Peter Sellers got his first chance (a la Alec Guinness) to perform several separate roles in one movie, and clearly shows a hint of the genius that was to come in later films such as Dr. Strangelove (1964). While The Mouse That Roared devolves into a bit too much slapstick in its second half, there are enough moments of clever satire to make it well worth watching at least once. Followed by a sequel (The Mouse on the Moon, directed by Richard Lester) in 1963.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Peter Sellers in three radically different roles
    Duchess
  • The spectacularly inept Tully Bascombe leading his tiny army through the empty streets of New York
    Army
  • A group of politicians playing a Monopoly-esque board game called “Diplomacy”
    Diplomacy
  • Jean Seberg in one of her all-too-rare screen performances, as daughter of the scientist who created the Q-bomb

Must See?
Yes. While it’s somewhat dated and considered by many to be overrated (see review links below), this comedy classic is must-see viewing due to Sellers’ performance(s).

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One Response to “Mouse That Roared, The (1959)”

  1. Must-see.

    I would only take issue here with its being dated (I don’t think it is) and that it delves too much into slapstick in its second half (I don’t feel it does).

    This is an endlessly charming film which really needs no other introduction than to just see it. On this revisit, I was quite surprised to see how well the film holds up today. The cast and director are in perfect harmony with the script’s buoyant tone – and Sellers, in particular, is (as they say) in his element (three of them, in fact).

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