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Two short films starring the genius British comedian Peter Sellers that were assumed lost have been found and will be screened at the Southend Film Festival in May. The 30-minute films were made in 1957, as Sellers tried to establish himself as a film star.
By the late 1950s, Sellers had become a well-known radio personality in the U.K. on the BBC’s The Goon Show, but he was trying to break into films, which he did so successfully. Sellers, who died in 1980, starred in British comedy classics like The Ladykillers and was the original Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther films. He played three roles and was nominated for an Oscar for starring in Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
According to the BBC, the shorts were first found in 1996 in a trash bin by a building manager named Robert Farrow. He didn’t know what the 21 cans of film were and almost threw them out, before he handed them over to Paul Cotgrove, who runs the film festival.
“It was then I realised they were two Sellers films including the negatives, titles, show prints, outtakes and the master print. It was amazing,” Farrow said.
The films, called Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia is Good For You, are parodies of British government films made at the time. While they show Sellers refining his craft, Deadline notes that there are some other facts about them that may interest film fans. Judith Wyler, the daughter of legendary director William Wyler, and they were co-written with Oscar nominee Mordecai Richler.
The films will be screened at the Southend Film Festival on May 1.
image: Wikimedia Commons