November 7, 2011


Peter Sellers played a pivotal role in the history of comedy. His work as a character actor in The Goons, a group committed to thinking outside the box of convention, inspired a whole generation of English comedians and writers to shine a light on society and to push the boundaries of class and culture with a satirical edge. Sellers' gift for the surreal naturally linked him with what became a surrealism boom in the 1960s. Sellers' short film, The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1960), for surreal/comedy director, Richard Lester, helped to put the director on the Beatles' radar (George Martin produced records by Sellers and The Goons), and landed him the plum assignments, A Hard Day's Night (1964) and Help! (1965). Sellers continued to rise through the 1960s, playing lead parts in influential films like Dr. Strangelove (1964), Casino Royale (1967), The Pink Panther (1963), and Woody Allen's first feature script, What's New Pussycat (1965). He joined an all-star cast in 1966 to bring Alice in Wonderland to the BBC's Wednesday Play (which included a soundtrack by Ravi Shankar!).

During the mid-1960s, Peter Sellers explored a number of Beatles songs as spoken comedy records. Spy Vibe spotlights the great Peter Sellers' set of these classic renditions. Move over Shatner and Nimoy! Record 3: She Loves You (Dr. Strangelove version). This video is a wild concoction of Cold War-era imagination (note the Ken Adam war-room set design).

More on 1960s UK Surrealism and satire here. Peter here. To learn more about Sellers, check out the excellent bio-pic, The Life & Death of Peter Sellers (2004), starring Geoffrey Rush.

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