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The Mouse That Roared (1959)

1 rating: 5.0
Comedy movie directed by Jack Arnold

The Mouse That Roared(1959) is mostly remembered as a tour-de-force by a peerless comic actor, Peter Sellers, playing all three of the principal roles. It's worth seeing for that reason alone, but the film is also one of the most memorable satires of … see full wiki

Director: Jack Arnold
Genre: Comedy
1 review about The Mouse That Roared (1959)

" But what if we win?...."

  • Sep 19, 2003
A fellow graduate school student and I saw this film in New Haven when it was first released and had no idea what to expect, except that it starred Peter Sellers whose work we both admired very much in earlier films such as The Ladykillers (1955), Tom Thumb (1958), and I'm All Right Jack (1959). So we settled back in our seats and were immediately enchanted by Grand Fenwick and its monarch, Grand Duchess Gloriana (Sellers). The best way to enjoy this film now is to see it as a whimsical fantasy rather than as a serious satire of the Cold War and the widespread concern then about thermonuclear weapons. Its greatest strength remains the same as it was 45 years ago: The talents of Peter Sellers. He plays three quite different characters, the aforementioned Grand Duchess as well as "Field Marshal" Tully Bascombe (who leads a 20-soldier invasion of the United States) and Count Mountjoy, the devious prime minister.

The plot (such as it is) consists of a series of humorous incidents prior to, during, and then following the invasion. As directed by Jack Arnold, the film focuses on the implications of a basic conceit: Declare war on the United States (as did Japan and then Germany), lose the war, and then have your economy restored to greater health than ever before (e.g. Japan and Germany). Count Mountjoy's strategy fails for reasons best revealed in the film. One of the several brilliant elements is Arnold's use of Professor Kokintz (David Kossoff) who has invented the "Q Bomb," a weapon whose nuclear power (he claims) is "approximately" equal to 100 hydrogen bombs. Better yet, it has the size and shape of an American football and thus can easily be tucked under an arm until activated. Presumably the straight-faced silliness throughout this film made a favorable impression on members of the Monty Python Flying Circus.

Regrettably, the DVD version I have offers no special features other than clearer image and sound. Those who enjoy this film are urged to check out Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) in which Alec Guinness plays eight different roles.

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