Peter Sellers: His Life in Home Movies

Peter Sell­ers was a com­pul­sive home movie mak­er. His house was clut­tered with cam­eras, cables and tape recorders, accord­ing to his first wife Anne Howe, and he liked to bring a cam­era along with him wher­ev­er he went, some­times hand­ing it to a com­pan­ion and clown­ing around in front of the lens.

In 1995, fif­teen years after Sell­er­s’s death, pro­duc­ers from BBC Are­na sort­ed through his exten­sive archive and assem­bled some of the best footage for a film called The Peter Sell­ers Sto­ry. In 2002 they short­ened it into The Peter Sell­ers Sto­ry: As He Filmed It (above), which tells the sto­ry of the come­di­an’s life almost exclu­sive­ly with footage from his own cam­era.

There are glimpses of some notable peo­ple from the actor’s cir­cle, includ­ing Stan­ley Kubrick, Sophia Loren, Lord Snow­don, Princess Mar­garet, Britt Ekland, Blake Edwards, Spike Mil­li­gan and Orson Welles. The audio is pieced togeth­er from vin­tage per­for­mances and inter­views, along with com­men­tary by Sell­er­s’s friends, fam­i­ly and col­leagues. It’s a unique film, offer­ing a per­son­al look at the enig­mat­ic and emo­tion­al­ly trou­bled genius who was able to slip con­fi­dent­ly into an amaz­ing range of personas–often in the same film–but was nev­er sure of his own. As Sell­ers once told an inter­view­er:

I have no per­son­al­i­ty of my own, you see. I could nev­er be a star because of this. I’m a char­ac­ter actor. I could­n’t play Peter Sell­ers the way Cary Grant plays Cary Grant, say–because I have no con­crete image of myself. I look in the mir­ror and what I see is some­one who has nev­er grown up–a crash­ing sen­ti­men­tal­ist who alter­nates between great heights and black depths. You know, it’s a fun­ny thing, but when I’m doing a role I feel it’s the role doing the role, if you know what I mean. When some­one tells me “You were great as so-and-so,” I feel they should be telling this to so-and-so, and when I fin­ish a pic­ture I feel a hor­ri­ble sud­den loss of iden­ti­ty.

The Peter Sell­ers Sto­ry: As He Filmed It will be added to our col­lec­tion of 500 Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Peter Sell­ers Per­forms The Bea­t­les in Shake­speare­an Mode

Peter Sell­ers Reads The Bea­t­les’ ‘She Loves You’ in Four Voic­es


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