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THE GHOST OF PETER SELLERS

With each passing year we see more documentaries about films and filmmakers. Some get only a passing nod while others are embraced by critics and buffs alike. In The Ghost of Peter Sellers, Hungarian-born filmmaker Peter Medak travels back 47 years to explore what went wrong with a seemingly sure-fire project proposed by Sellers. He and his Goon Show comrade Spike Milligan wrote a pirate comedy called Ghost in the Noonday Sun but the filming was an absolute disaster.

Why would a man who has worked successfully in film and television all these years (with some great ones like The Ruling Class to his credit) choose to revisit the greatest nightmare of his career? It boils down to this: Ghost created a wound in Medak that has never healed. In spite of all the trouble Sellers caused, Medak still loves and admires him and wanted to tell this story. This fascinating feature documentary is something like an autopsy. The movie was never released, and what we see of it offers the definite impression that it would have been dead on arrival.

As Medak talks to fellow survivors of this disaster we bear witness to what might have been if the stars hadn’t so completely misaligned. For dyed-in-the-wool film buffs this is a valuable document.

To screen the film at home, click HERE.

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Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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