A considerably broadened version of Jean Anouilh's ironic stage comedy results in a capital acting opportunity for Peter Sellers. Pic is handsomely mounted, and it's directed with zest and pace by John Guillermin. But too many moods jostle for it to be a complete success. Slapstick, farce, high comedy, drama and tragedy are all there but they don't always make easy companions.

A considerably broadened version of Jean Anouilh’s ironic stage comedy results in a capital acting opportunity for Peter Sellers. Pic is handsomely mounted, and it’s directed with zest and pace by John Guillermin. But too many moods jostle for it to be a complete success. Slapstick, farce, high comedy, drama and tragedy are all there but they don’t always make easy companions.

Mankowitz has transferred the yarn from France to Sussex. Briefly, it concerns an elderly general, about to retire before World War I. He is a man with a roving eye for the girls, trapped by a neurotic, shrewish, sham-invalid of a wife and two unprepossessing daughters. For 17 years, he has had a platonic romance with a French woman, never having a real opportunity to consummate their love. She turns up at his castle determined that this sad state of affairs should end.

Sellers extracts laughs and compassionate pity with equal ease, whether he is being caught up in a drunken party at a tavern, conducting a riotous mock duel with his local doctor (Cyril Cusack), taking charge of a court martial, leching after his maids, facing up to the fact that he is a failure or, in the more tragic moments, stripping his soul bare as he struggles in his hateful scenes with his wife.

Waltz of the Toreadors

UK

Production

Rank/Independent Artists. Director John Guillermin; Producer Peter de Savigny; Screenplay Wolf Mankowitz; Camera John Wilcox; Editor Peter Taylor; Music Richard Addinsell; Art Director Wilfrid Shingleton

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1962. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Peter Sellers Dany Robin Margaret Leighton John Fraser Cyril Cusack Prunella Scales
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