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on 13 March 2014
One of the worst comedies of all time.Can't believe this has reached 10+ five stars.Must be by people who lack in knowledge of quality films.Avoid at all cost.
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By and large I avoid writing or posting negative reviews. But, having very recently just ended an otherwise pleasant family evening with this film on DVD, I feel compelled to register a critical view.

My dad's a fairly enthusiastic Sellers fan, without being an ardent devotee. So the choice of this movie on that occasion was largely in his honour. This said, it had been suggested we watch The Party. But, all of us present at the soirée having seen that highly enjoyable film many times, I prevailed upon the company to try something different. Oops!

Having just seen and enjoyed another multiple-role Sellers film (Soft Beds & Hard Battles) I'd hoped this would be fun. But I think all of us were 'unonymously' agreed, this was just plain lame. I think each of the four of us might've let out the faintest of chortles about once each during the entire film, which - for a film purporting to be a comedy - ain't saying much.

The plot is silly, but has potential (and is reminiscent of the far better - but itself not brilliant - Ealing Comedy, 'Passport to Pimlico'), as the tiny English-speaking Central-European nation of Grand Fenwick takes America on militarily, hoping for defeat and a lucrative post-war aid package, but accidentally winning.

Sellers manages the job of multiple roles superbly in Dr Strangelove, and pretty well in Soft Beds & Hard Battles, but here he plays three equally unengaging charisma-free nonentities. His turns here just reminded me how much better Alec Guiness did the same sort of thing in Kind Hearts & Coronets.

Sellers is most enjoyable here as the unctuous Count Rupert Mountjoy, the Prime Minister, who concocts the daft idea of declaring war on the US with the stated aim of losing and benefiting from post-war reconstructive aid. He's less winning as Duchess Gloriana XII, the First Lady of Grand Fenwick, and he's a damp squib as Tully Bascomb, the gormless bespectacled chief of Grand Fenwick's feudal-era armed forces.

The chemistry between Sellers and Jean Seberg is a complete dud; no fireworks at all! And, like many of the 'characters', Seberg never becomes more than an irritating cipher. Other familiar faces - William Hartnoll and Leo McKern, for example - also fail to ignite either laughs or interest.

It's odd how some older comedies (both the aforementioned Kind Hearts & Coronets and Dr Strangelove) stand the test of time so well, whilst others - this, Carry On Spying, Carry On Up The Khyber, Carry On ... (well, lets face it, most of the Carry On franchise) - don't.

But, then again, maybe it isn't that perplexing. Funnily enough, really good comedy requires intelligence, and at least some depth, neither of which qualities are ever very apparent here. Ironically, in light of a particular maritime sequence in the movie, this film seems to have got lost mid-Atlantic, having neither the charm of a good British comedy, nor the slickness of a good American production.

And there's something cloying and rather nauseating about certain pro-American moments in this production, if taken at face value. A deeper and creepier irony is that, in the real world, the FBI hounded Seberg in a notoriously inhumane manner, possibly leading to such events as the death of her child, her psychological deterioration, and ultimately her suicide.

Oh, those sweet Yanks, they're so nice to their enemies... cue canned (and very hollow) laughter.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 June 2013
This merry, cheerful, clever and hysterically funny movie is one of my all time favorite comedies. Below, more of my impressions with some limited SPOILERS!

The Duchy of Grand Fenwick is situated in the Alps between France and Switzerland. Created in 1370 by an English knight, it is the only English speaking country in continental Europe. With a surface of 39 square kilometres and a population of about 6000 it is also amongst the smallest independent countries in the world (in real world, only Vatican City, Monaco, Nauru and Tuvalu are smaller than this fictitious state). When this film begins, Grand Fenwick faces an unprecented crisis, threatening the very economical survival of the nation - but the Prime Minister presents to the Duchess and the Parliament a daring plan which should solve all the problems...

What follows is a wonderful comedy, full of gags and brilliant dialogs, with a stellar performance by Peter Sellers, who plays three different roles, including that of the Hereditary Field Marshal and High Constable Tully Bascombe, who is in command of all Grand Fenwick armed forces, and serves as local game warden in time of peace...))) Jean Seberg supports him valiantly in a secondary but important role. I was not familiar with other actors, but it seems that they were all skilled veterans of British cinema and theatre.

I saw this film at least four times in my life and it always cheered me up. This film uses a kind of intelligent, clever and merry humor without vulgarity - which is a rare thing in present day movies. Humor is also less cruel and vicious than in more modern comedies in which villains are sometimes crucified without any mercy - here, even when complete idiots are terribly mocked, it is still made with some humanity and kindness retained. And I always found this a very precious thing.

This film is a wonderful, precious thing - to buy, watch and keep. Enjoy!
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 April 2010
Peter Sellers lived in Wiltshire for a period in the sixties. He lived in the picture postcard village of Ansty, in his picture postcard cottage. He used to get his fresh vegetables from the same old market gardener who I used in later years. The old gardener told me that Sellers was a very nice man indeed, although later published works have highlighted his personal struggles, which is not uncommon to comedians of his stature. That he was a man of uncommon talent is a fact that cannot be denied, and he showcases that wonderful talent to full effect in "The Mouse that Roared"(59).

Directed by Jack Arnold, the films story concerns the fictional world's smallest nation, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, whose economy is based on the success of their own unique wine which is exported to the USA. When a rival American wine threatens the economy they decide to declare war on the USA in the hope of profiting from war reparations. To this end they send an invasion fleet across the Atlantic to New York. Their army's equipment consists of chain mail and the ever reliable long bow. They are meant to lose but unwittingly they manage to capture the deadly Q bomb and its inventor. Suddenly the world is thrown into turmoil, and "The Grand Duchy of Fenwick" has undreamed of political clout. Everyone wants to be their friend. Will it all end in disaster for the little guy?

In what was his fifth film Sellers plays three roles as GlorianaX11, reigning duchess of Grand Fenwick, Baron Mountjoy the crafty prime minister and Tully Bascombe the inept military commander. This hugely successful foray into multi identities ignited his career and led to similar roles. In "Lolita"(62) he was a playwright who underwent several hilarious character changes in order to pursue his passion. In Kubrick's famous "Dr Strangelove"(64) he again had three roles. Also in "The Great McGonagal"(74), he and his four fellow cast members played 34 parts between them. Perhaps the most famous example of multi roles was Alec Guinness in "Kind Hearts and Coronets"(49) where he played eight members of the d'Ascoyne family. But the record surely goes to Ralph Leslie's 27 parts in the 1913 biopic of Queen Victoria in "Sixty Years a Queen". A title that they might not get away with today!

The film was a sleeper hit in the USA. It is good to know that our American friends can laugh at themselves! The film was certainly a child of its cold war time, and the political satire does seem very dated now. It is not biting satire in the "Dr Strangelove" vein! Its charm lies in a much gentler humour and the old British tradition of supporting the little man. It contains many good gags, the opening one with the Columbia logo being perhaps the pick. There is also a very funny line where Gloriana mistakenly believes Coolidge is still the president of America. The film has that old Ealing comedy sense of fun which brings a smile to your face, and in achieving that it becomes an unqualified success
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 April 2011
The Mouse That Roared is based on the novel by Leonard Wibberley, it's directed by Jack Arnold and stars Peter Sellers, Jean Seberg, William Hartnell & Leo McKern. It tells the delightful story of The Duchy of Grand Fenwick, a tiny tiny European country that goes to war with the United States. They do so because their number one source of income, Pinot Grand Fenwick wine has stopped selling on account of a cheap imitation coming out of America, Pinot Grand Enwick. The plan is to quickly lose to America and thus accept the foreign aid that America is want to give to its stricken conquests. But all does not go according to plan as the Duchy's inadequate forces manage to take control of the "Q-Bomb," a new and deadly invention capable of global destruction.

A tidy and cheeky comedy from the late 1950s, The Mouse That Roared finds Sellers acting out three roles and director Arnold venturing away from the creature feature genre that made his name. Coming across as a sort of Ealing meets Dr Strangelove, it's nice to report that the film holds up well even today. This is down to the fact that its core pot shots are at politics and world situations, things that still exacerbate and annoy everyday followers of the worlds news. The performances are strong within the cast, while some scenes are comedy gold. Such as the Fenwickian army {numbering 20 soft souls} invading America dressed as Knights from yore, armed with bows & arrows!! Yes it's that sort of daftness that propels the visual comedy whilst the story deals in satirical smirks.

Tho not quite the British Comedy Classic some critics proclaim it to be, it is, however, hugely enjoyable and a film that rewards on repeat viewings. 6.5/10

Footnote; An inferior sequel called The Mouse On The Moon followed in 1963, Sellers and Arnold had bailed, and they were right to do so.
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on 31 August 2016
This is a classic British comedy starring the late, great Peter Sellars in three very different roles. Set in a small Mid European duchy, it involves an attempt by the scheming politicians of the country to con the American government out of a fortune by declaring war in the hope of losing and thus qualifying for financial aid. The only thing is the inept Tully Bascombe (Peter Sellars) is in charge! Watch out For William Hartnell in a pre original Doctor Who role
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on 9 February 2016
A good idea fairly well executed.
Acting is good, Sellers great and a joy to see David Kossof.
Prob is that it is more like an excellent pantomime less like a film.
I remember being a bit disappointed when I saw it all those years ago. We had already watched the Mouse on the Moon and perhaps that even in black and white stole it's thunder.
Or maybe "mouse" is just better. Not so easy to get a copy of that tho.
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VINE VOICEon 5 May 2014
This is a delightful British comedy, which I first saw at the cinema at the time of its original release. The story revolves around the world's smallest country, Grand Fenwick, waging war on the USA for economic purposes only - a preposterous storyline for an absolutely delightful film. With strong support from a cast including Jean Seberg and British stalwarts including Leo McKern and David Kossoff, the film is really an early showcase for its star Peter Sellers, who plays three different dotty characters to excellent comic effect. This is an outstanding piece of British comedy cinema history.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 September 2005
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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on 20 December 2016
Its actually not very funny. Peter Sellers is disappointing too - Alec Guinness does character multi acting far far better in Kind Hearts and Coronets. All the scenes are unconvincing and very budget orientated and there is the usual bunch of American actors who established a B movie career over here during the 1950's and 1960's because they weren't good enough for Hollywood. Okay, it gives out a ban the bomb message in a preachy predictable way but its still weak, dated and not very funny.
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