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Films: F is for...

Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu, The

Ropey, ‘troubled’, bizarre-in-the-worst-way last hurrah from Peter Sellers, who plays both Sax Rohmer’s titular mastermind (in latex make-up and corny accent) and his dashing, lawnmower-loving British nemesis (in grey wig and incoherent aristocratic mumbles). He does both very badly indeed, but then he was not a well man, either physically (the ailing Fu jump-starts himself with electric shocks, in a grisly echo of Sellers’s own cardiac traumas) or mentally (the ever-difficult star sacked director Piers Haggard half way through, and finished it off himself, hence the resulting mess that takes “being all over the shop” into a new dimension). A wasted supporting cast includes Helen Mirren, David ‘tuppence’ Tomlinson, a totally out of place Sid ‘Show of Shows’ Caesar, a Dad’s Army double of John Le Mesurier and Clive Dunn, and Burt Kwouk in an obvious Panther-referencing cameo at the start. From then on, it’s a mish-mash of fizzling sub-plots, misfiring gags (and huge stretches without any recognisable gags, or indeed anything happening at all), much gratuitous ‘delightfully un-PC’ racism, and some admittedly rather good set design, all culminating in Sellers doing a totally pointless Japanese Elvis routine that would have Simon Groom slapping his ample forehead in disbelief.

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  1. Matt Patton

    February 27, 2010 at 1:15 am

    Isn’t this the one where Mirren taps dances and plays the accordion? At the same time?

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