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  Ghost in the Noonday Sun No Buried TreasureBuy this film here.
Year: 1973
Director: Peter Medak
Stars: Peter Sellers, Anthony Franciosa, Spike Milligan, Clive Revill, Peter Boyle, James Villiers, Murray Melvin, Thomas Baptiste, Richard Willis, Bill Kerr, Tutte Lemkow, David Lodge, Rosemary Leach, Griffith Davies, John Hollis, Paddy Joyce, Vikki Richards
Genre: Comedy
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The story goes that the pirate ship of Ras Mohammed (Peter Boyle) was headed for a distant isle, all the better to bury his priceless treasure on, and when they arrived at a particular place he recruited the ship's cook Dick Scratcher (Peter Sellers) to join the landing party, mainly because he didn't trust him but also since he wanted someone to make him a meal once he reached the pertinent area. However, this was his last mistake for as he supervised the digging of the pit for the treasure, the cook had a brainwave: if he murdered the captain he need never cook for him again...

And so it comes to pass that Scratcher becomes the Captain and the rest of the movie turns into an exercise of own-tail-chasing in this pirate spoof, often considered lost ever since its non-release by Columbia back in the early to mid-seventies. The reasons they never bothered to put the movie out to any kind of proper distribution were murky, but apparently it was not considered commercial enough in light of the fact that Sellers' works were dwindling in popularity at the time and his comeback and re-establishment as a valuable talent when he made another Pink Panther sequel were still a couple of years away.

So Ghost in the Noonday Sun was left to languish on the shelf, and even after Sellers' upsurge in success with his career in that last decade before his untimely death nobody thought it was worth releasing, though it did finally escape onto the odd VHS label across the world during the nineteen-eighties, not that many would have noticed. But the question was whether this was some undiscovered gem or was it best forgotten after all? Although just about anything Sellers worked on was worth a look, what with him being one of the greatest screen comedians of all time, the truth was this was made about the point when his demons were truly dominating his life, and that tended to show in his choices.

Indeed, such were the horror stories surrounding him about his endless superstitions and arguments with just about anybody who was trying to persuade him to play a scene just so, it was surprising he made a comeback at all. He still had plenty of cachet among British audiences thanks to the goodwill he had created for over two decades of work, and this was one of the movies he made for his home nation though much of it was shot in Cyprus which looked that bit more exotic for desert island purposes and the deep blue Mediterranean was ideal for the seafaring sequences, though what would have made the project attractive to Sellers was the chance to work with his old friend Spike Milligan once again.

There are conflicting stories about how much influence Spike had on the production, with some claiming Sellers had director Peter Medak fired so his mate could take over the helm, but you could definitely make out Milliganese touches to the humour. Alas, he was not at his best by this time either, and for every joke which raised a titter there were far too many more which fell flat, not helped by the sound recording ensuring most of the cast were muttering into their beards as if inspired by Popeye. Enunciating rather better was Anthony Franciosa, channelling his inner Errol Flynn as the second-in-command and turning hero as all the characters who realised Scratcher was a fool did: basically Thomas Baptiste and Richard Willis, the latter a Jack Wild-alike who the Captain kidnaps because he can see ghosts and therefore under the right conditions will see the spirit of Ras Mohammed, thus pointing them in the right direction of the treasure which Scratcher has forgotten location of. This could have been any bog standard pirate tale, and swelled the ranks of this genre's underwhelming, looking ahead, alas, to Yellowbeard. Music by Denis King.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Peter Medak  (1937 - )

Variable Hungarian-born director who alternates between the big screen and the small screen. Arthouse hits like Negatives, satire The Ruling Class and A Day in the Death of Joe Egg gave way to comedy - Zorro: The Gay Blade - and classy horror - The Changeling. In the nineties, he went from gangster movie The Krays to morbid thriller Romeo is Bleeding to over-the-top sci-fi sequel Species II.

 
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