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Picks and Pans Review: The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu

updated 09/22/1980 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/22/1980 01:00AM

When it comes to outrageous accents, laughable disguises and wacky humor, film comedy was a sellers' market—Peter Sellers, that is. This, his last movie, is a rather tepid story, though, and will probably receive closer scrutiny than it should. It features an English cottage which doubles as a hot-air balloon and contains about four good laughs. When not-so-nasty old Fu Manchu (Sellers) turns 168, he is suddenly deprived of his precious youth elixir. Scouring the earth for the rare ingredients, Fu locks mustaches with a retired Scotland Yard superintendent (Sellers again) who has a strange attachment to his lawn mower. Directed by Scotsman Piers Haggard, the film has a dour look. Sellers keeps his tongue in check, establishing his non-sequitur interpretation of Fu with lines like, "Call me Fred, that's what they called me at Eton." While the superintendent works out as a delightfully dotty character overall, Sellers' performance may be too muted for those expecting something approaching Inspector Clouseau. Though it's hardly the summer's worst, the brilliant actor's farewell isn't the film people will want to remember him by. (PG)

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