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Tony Grist

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Hoffman [Jan. 14th, 2006|12:09 pm]
Tony Grist
Hoffman is the movie Peter Sellers wanted to wipe from the record. He even tried to buy the negative so he could burn it.

The character he plays is a creepy little perve. Boy blackmails girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. I'm never sure whether films and plays about misogynists are necessarily misogynist in themselves, but I guess this one probably is. Sellers gets to say things like "Every pretty girl is like a flower garden with a compost heap at the bottom" and sing parlour ballads about wife murder.

Initially he wanted to play the character with an Austrian accent and lots of pratfalls. But the director challenged him to do it straight. So he did. The outcome is something very like a self portrait. The void shows through.

I've read the Life and I know what a swine he was, but Sellers is one of the very few actors I really love.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2006-01-20 09:07 am (UTC)
The first Peter Sellers film I ever saw was Being There, for a class in high school. (This enabled me to recognize him, insofar as this was possible, in an episode of The Muppet Show where he recited the opening speech of Richard III as Queen Victoria in a Viking helmet with a pair of chickens under either arm.) I suppose that was as good an introduction as any.

Why did he dislike Hoffman so much? Because of the quality of self-portrait you've described?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-01-20 09:51 am (UTC)
Being There is wonderful. Chance/Chauncey Gardner has to be his greatest role- and one of the greatest film performances ever.

I remember him singing the old music hall number "Cigarettes and whisky and wild, wild women" on the Muppet Show and making it both comic and deeply affecting. But I find that quality in most of his work.

He didn't explain why he wanted to destroy Hoffman, but it must have been because he felt he'd exposed too much of his real self.
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[User Picture]From: sovay
2006-01-20 10:42 am (UTC)
"Cigarettes and whisky and wild, wild women"

Do you have a recording of that performance? I have a friend who's been looking for it for years.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2006-01-20 11:13 am (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't. I only saw it the once- and that was when it was first transmitted- which must be something like 30 years ago.
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