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The World of Henry Orient [DVD] 
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Peter Sellers stars in this minor masterpiece directed by George Roy Hill (of 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' and 'The Sting' fame). Sellers plays Henry Orient, an eccentric concert pianist with an ego much larger than his talent. When two schoolgirls become infatuated with Orient and begin to follow him everywhere he goes, all kinds of complicated problems and unexpected pleasures arise.
Top customer reviews
This movie was popular in 1964, but hasn't aged well. Back then, 14-year olds wore crinoline dresses and ankle socks and grown-ups dressed to the nines. Today, sweet Val and Gil look like they're from another planet and the adults sitting around in pearls and hats do, too. Despite the title, the movie isn't about Peter Sellers' character, Henry Orient; in fact, his is a relatively small role and he never really gets a chance to shine or connect with the audience. Merrie Spaeth and Tippy Walker play the girls who cheerfully stalk their idol, and their friendship and relationships with their parents make up the plot. The girls are wholesome and natural. Angela Landsbury is good as Val's cold and creepy mother.
This is a movie made for reminiscing about the good old days; it's a gentle family movie from another era that may leave young people scratching their heads and older people smiling. 3.5 stars.
It took me a while to get 'into' the story, but after a few false starts, my patience paid off and I found it quite enjoyable.
Peter Sellers is amusing in places, even though the comic side of his character is somewhat underplayed, while Angela Lansbury is convincing as the tarty mother and Tom Bosley's character shines very comfortably and contributes to a very satisfying 'happy ending'.
Worth four stars overall.
The great comic Sellers, who was troubled by a stalking fan during the New York filming of this picture, received sterling support from the adult actors in this film. Prentiss (Where the Boys Are ), was lovely and ditsy as Dunnworthy. Angela Lansbury played her patented monster mom (The Manchurian Candidate ) as Isabel Boyd, mother to one of the prep school girls, Valarie `Val' Campbell Boyd, played by Tippy Walker. Tom Bosley, (Murder, She Wrote - Season 1-5), played Frank Boyd, Val's sympathetic father. Phyllis Thaxter played Mrs. Avis Gilbert, and Bibi Osterwald , Erica `Boothy' Booth, who made a home for the other prep school girl, Marian `Gil' Gilbert, as played by Merrie Spaeth. Popular comic support players John Fiedler played Sidney, and Al Lewis, a store owner. The well-known society band leader Peter Duchin played Joe Daniels. Elmer Bernstein wrote the score, his first for a comedy.
Mind you, a lifetime of film going has taught me that the actor playing the title character of a film is its star. And Sellers gets star billing here. But he's not the film's star. The girls are, in this coming of age picture. Perhaps he didn't know how to play well with others. Or Hill didn't quite know how to handle him. Or it was in the script, which was written by Nora Johnson, based upon a novel of hers, and Nunnally Johnson, (The Grapes of Wrath ,The Dirty Dozen ,The Three Faces Of Eve ,How to Marry a Millionaire ) an honored screenwriter who was her father. According to IMDb, Nora has explained that the pianist's unusual surname - Orient - was inspired by real-life concert pianist Oscar Levant. (The word "levant" means orient in French.) Nora has also said that she and a friend had schoolgirl crushes on Levant.
Never mind, Sellers appears to have fun. He was, of course, a genius at accents. Here his accent changes from a generic European accent--he does tend to mix up his French and Italian -- to a New York/Brooklyn accent, which was an imitation of Stanley Kubrick's voice. (Kubrick had directed Sellers in LOLITA and DR STRANGELOVE.) The film also captures New York in a lovely, peaceful, clean and safe time, and gives us a nice picture of the prep school world inhabited by the likes of J. D. Salinger's characters. Worth a look, certainly, for Sellers fans.
A "minor" masterpiece. Essential viewing for all those concerned with the processes of growing up, which includes each and every one of us, of course. A fine fusion of comedy and pathos, romanticism and grim reality (all be it at a mild level).
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