Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cold War
- Margaret Rutherford Films
- Richard Lester Films
- Space Exploration
Richard Lester’s breakthrough directorial effort was this sequel to The Mouse That Roared (1959), which starred Peter Sellers in three different roles. Sellers didn’t return for this sequel, and the movie suffers from an overall sense of simply trying to bank on the original film’s concept and success; to its credit, however, the storyline — scripted by Michael Pertwee from Leonard Wibberley’s novel — effectively satirizes the (justified) paranoia felt by all players during the Cold War. Moody — best known for his role as Fagin in Oliver! (1969) — desperately wants indoor plumbing installed so he can enjoy his baths (and, of course, promote tourist trade on the side):
… but he knows that requesting direct support for this would go nowhere. Therefore, he devises a plan to flatter the U.S. into thinking they are making a key ally while knowing Ruritania can’t possibly craft an actual working rocket:
“The Americans will not give us one penny if we had the remotest chance of sending a rocket anywhere, but they are always talking about international coöperation in space, and this offers them the opportunity without risk.”
The U.S. understands this as well, of course. As a confident delegate (John Phillips) argues:
“Without risk, the U.S. can encourage international space research. This will hit the uncommitted nations right between the eyes. They’ll love us, and it’ll only cost one million lousy dollars.”
And so on. Naturally, nothing goes as planned — especially with Kosoff’s brilliance and Cribbins’ persistence both underestimated.
Meanwhile, the Grand Duchess (Rutherford) is simply out-of-it and confused, adding to the overall chaos of the diplomatic situation:
… and a bumbling spy (Terry-Thomas) sent to suss things out doesn’t get very far:
Unfortunately, Cribbins is an annoying protagonist, and the special effects are laughably primitive throughout — but this film does deserve some props for its timely skewering of international relations at a particular time in history.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Effectively comedic direction by Lester
No, unless you’re curious. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.