Now available for the first time in North America: Mr. Topaze, the long-lost 1961 comedy starring Peter Sellers that also marked the actor’s first, and only, effort as a director. Newly restored in 2K digital from the lone surviving 35mm print, Mr. Topaze is available through Film Movement as a DVD, Blu-ray and digital release beginning Tuesday, Oct. 27.
In Mr. Topaze, Sellers stars as a poor but proud French schoolmaster who loses his job after he refuses to alter the failing grades of one of his students. Seizing an opportunity to exploit Topaze’s honesty, an actress (played by Nadia Gray) convinces her lover, a corrupt city councilman (played by Herbert Lom, a few years before partnering with Sellers in the Pink Panther movies), to hire Topaze to manage one of his shady businesses. Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey, The Prisoner), Billie Whitelaw, and Michael Gough (Batman) also star.
Sellers’ lone directorial effort, Mr. Topaze displays the British comic genius at the peak of his powers, while also displaying some of the physical comedy that defined his now iconic portrayal of Inspector Clouseau. The film alongside his future Pink Panther nemesis Herbert Lom and a stellar supporting cast that includes Leo McKern, Billie Whitelaw and Michael Gough. Long considered a “lost” classic, Mr. Topaze was digitally restored in 2K from the last surviving 35mm prints held in the BFI National Archive.
Extra features include a new essay by Roger Lewis, author of The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. “In my opinion we are only now beginning to wake up to Sellers’ unique qualities as a performer, and the rediscovery of Mr. Topaze will aid this reassessment,” writes Lewis. “It is a film of which Jacques Tati might be proud. It is as good as any of the later Chaplin efforts, Limelight or A Countess from Hong Kong. It is a scandal that it was lost for so long.”
- Peter Sellers (Being There, The Pink Panther series, Dr. Strangelove)
- Herbert Lom (The Pink Panther series, The Dead Zone, Spartacus)
- Nadia Gray (La Dolce Vita)
- Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey, Ryan’s Daugher, The Mouse That Roared)
- Billie Whitelaw (The Krays, Hot Fuzz, The Omen)
- Michael Gough (Batman, Sleepy Hollow, The Age of Innocence)
- Let’s Go Crazy (1951) – a madcap short film starring Peter Sellers and his Goon Show co-star Spike Milligan
- The Poetry of Realism (2019) – Kat Ellinger video essay on auteur Marcel Pagnol, the playwright of Topaze
- Abigail McKern Interview (2019) – Leo McKern’s daughter discusses her father’s life and career
- 24-page booklet with notes on the film’s rediscovery by BFI curator Vic Pratt and a new essay by Roger Lewis, author of The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
Type: Blu-ray/DVD/Digital (New 2K Digital Restoration)
Running Time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
About Film Movement
Founded in 2002, Film Movement is a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. It has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide including the Oscar-nominated films Theeb (2016) and Corpus Christi (2020). Film Movement’s theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries, and foreign art house titles. Its catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, Arturo Ripstein, King Hu, Sergio Corbucci, Ettore Scola and Luchino Visconti. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com. Visit www.filmmovementplus.com for more information about Film Movement Plus, the new subscription streaming service from Film Movement.