Hoffman - made in 1969 - is one of the most interesting and enjoyable of Peter Sellers' later British films. By this time he was firmly established as an international star with successes such as The Pink Panther, Dr. Strangelove and What's New Pussycat? behind him. But these films had shown Sellers more as a mimic and a very clever one - than as a straight actor. Given his early days in radio and the cult success of The Goon Show, in which Sellers' vocal versatility had been impressively shown, it was hardly surprising that it should be this one most remembers from Sellers' early character parts in British film. And even when he became a star, it was as much due to the accent he hid behind in creating the immortal, bungling, inspector Clouseau. What took time to emerge was the fact that Sellers was an excellent straight actor and one who did not necessarily require funny voices or slapstick gags to create a screen character. Hoffman shows Sellers the actor to considerable effect.
The movie is basically a tow-hander, co-starring Sellers with Sinead Cusack as Janet Smith, a nineteen-year-old London typist. For two ears Sellers' middle-aged Benjamin Hoffman has had a secret -so far unfulfilled -desire for her. But his worship of Janet from afar suddenly becomes more than just an erotic daydream for Hoffman when he discovers that her fiancé is involved with thieves. Hoffman uses the information to blackmail Janet - and the price that she has to pay is to spend a week with him at his flat. Ernest Gebler's script (from his own novel) is both witty and moving, and director Alvin Rakoff ensures that although the focus is on Sellers and Cusack for most of the time, it's time remarkably well spent. Sellers makes the most of the character of Hoffman, convincing in both comic and serious scenes. And this was the remarkable achievement of the film -it proved that Peter Sellers wasn't simply a funny voice - he was a considerable actor.
Director: Alvin Rakoff
Cast: Peter Sellers, Sinead Cusack, Jeremy Bulloch, Ruth Dunning, David Lodge, Ron Taylor, Kay Hall, Karen Murtagh, Cindy Burrows, Elizabeth Bayley
TVB 900273 2
* N/A or Unknown
Small Box - Rental Tape
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