Two short films starring Peter Sellar thought to have been lost have been rediscovered in Southend, England. The two, 30-minute films, Dearth Of A Salesman and Insomnia Is Good For You, are currently undergoing some restoration and will be screened at the local Southend Film Festival next May.
Sellers scholars believe that the comic actor produced the two short films in 1957 as a means to showcase his talents as he tried to move his career into the movies. Although he had some small television and film roles already to his credit, Sellers was still best known for being one-third of the cast of the highly popular and influential BBC radio series The Goon Show. The films themselves are parodies of government-produced information films.
The BBC is reporting that the film reels were originally discovered in a trash dumpster in 1996. Robert Farrow was overseeing the clearout of Park Lane Films’ former office in London ahead of an upcoming refurbishment when he took 21 film canisters home with the thought of using them to store his collection of Super 8 films. When he discovered that there were films in the canisters he put them in a closet in his own home until he recently reexamined the containers while cleaning out his own home.
As he told the BBC (via Deadline) –
It was then I realised they were two Sellers films including the negatives, titles, show prints, outtakes and the master print. It was amazing.
Although the existence of the films had been known, up until the discovery of the films there was little known about them with only a script for Insomnia is Good For You still remaining from their production.
According to Mark Cousins of the Peter Sellers Appreciation Society the discovery of the films leaves just one last piece of early work form the actor missing.
These early films, although they’re only shorts, are quite important because they were really made before he hit the big time… They are missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. [Sellers] is very well known for his later works such as Dr Strangelove and the Pink Panther films and these help to give people an appreciation of how he got there.
There has been no word yet as to if the short films will eventually become available via a home video or streaming release. But they have released a short clip from each film.