The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu
Zev Braun, Leland Nolan, Lynne Frederick (executive), Hugh Hefner (executive) for Braun Entertainment Group, Playboy Pictures
directed by Piers Haggard
starring Peter Sellers, Helen Mirren, David Tomlinson, Sid Caesar, Simon Williams, Steve Franken, Statford Johns, John Le Mesurier, John Sharp, Clément Harari, Lee Kwan-Young, John Tan, Philip Tan, Serge Julien, Johns Rajohnson, Pralith Jngam Oeurn, Song Lim Bun, Clive Dunn, Burt Kwouk, Katia Tchenko, David Powers, Marc Wilkinson, Grace Coyle, Jacqueline Fogt, Iska Khan, George Hilsdon, Rene Aranda
screenplay by Rudy Dochtermann, Jim Moloney, based on characters created by Sax Rohmer, music by Marc Wilkinson
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London, 1933: Oriental supervillain Fu Manchu (Peter Sellers) is at it
again, and this time he wants to steal the George V diamond, which is the
one ingredient missing in his elixir vitae recipe that would make sure
he'd see another birthday (his 169th, to be precise). Of course, Scotland
Yard and the deeply confused Nayland Smith (Peter Sellers again), who
refuses to leave house without his lawnmower, know about Fu Manchu's plans
and assisted by two FBI agents (Sid Caesar, Simon Williams) and undercover
policewoman Alice Rage (Helen Mirren) who is supposed to double for the
queen (Grace Coyle), they thwart his plans one after the other - until Fu
Manchu figures to keep Smith from spoiling all of his evil schemes, he has
to kidnap his beloved lawnmower. Then and only then, Fu Manchu kidnaps the
queen (whom he wants to exchange for the Crown Jewels, of which the George
V diamond is part) ... only to find out Smith has tricked him again, and
instead of having the queen at his disposal, he is stuck with Alice Rage.
But Alice Rage falls in love with him and helps him steal the diamond ...
and it's off to the Himalayas.
Of course, Smith is still one step ahead
from the comptetition and has seen to it that Fu Manchu doesn't steal the
real diamond but just a replica. And then he flies his cottage (!) to the
Himalayas to exchange the diamond for the crown jewels - only to arrive at
the villain's place having to realize his plan wasn't as fool-proof as he
thought it to be, and he has to hand over the diamond and admit defeat.
Once Fu Manchu is rejuvenated by his elixir vitae though, he has a change
of heart, and instead of whatever deviltry he had originally planned, he
returns the rest of the Crown Jewels and invites Smith to have some elixir
vitae himself ... simply to have a worthy opponent in the years, decades
and possibly centuries to come.
Essentially, The Fiendish
Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu is an unfunny comedy, a film that neither works
as a parody nor as a Fu Manchu-flick. However, the film is
not a total trainwreck, it boasts great performances by a pretty good cast
(even if Peter Sellers, who was in poor health and whose last movie this
was, looks a bit tired), and some of the gags really show potential - but
the problem here was possibly the film's director Piers Haggard, who had
proven himself a capable director of (mainly TV) dramas, but quite simply
lacked a knack for comedy, and thus many good jokes fall flat on their
face, are underdeveloped, or simply not recognized as jokes, and one of
the possibly funniest scenes of the film, when Smith flies his house to
the Himalayas balloonist-style, is ruined by lazy special effects.
all, it's a movie not worth your time and money, but when watching it, one
can't help but wonder what a more able director would have made out of the