Carlton-Browne of the F.O.
Though it had a tumultuous past during British occupation , the small island of Gallardia has spent the last 40 years in freedom, though violently divided between its North and South regions. However, the British ambassador was unaware that his post was resigned in 1919, so it's all the more shocking for the British Foreign Office when they receive correspondence from the man, as the whole of Britain has no idea of where Gallardia is. And considering that the representative for the F.O. is Cadogen de Vere Carlton-Browne (Terry-Thomas, best known to Americans for his role in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Word), it's obvious that his position is taken lightly. But when the new king of the North (Ian Bannen) comes into conflict with his uncle in the South over who should be the rightful heir (the South believes it should be Luciana Paluzzi), things are going to get plenty screwed up between Carlton-Browne and the amoral prime minister Amphibulos (Peter Sellers). Not making things any easier is that the entire world (including those nasty Russians) soon becomes interested in Gallardia when precious minerals are discovered. Both a sly satire of England's rule over foreign continents and a sappy love story, 1958's Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (released in America under as The Man in the Cocked Hat) is the sort of British satire that doesn't export itself well. The picture mostly belongs to Terry-Thomas, doing his patented befuddled stiff-upper-lip routine, which is a stereotype that has not aged well. Sellers is amusing in his supporting role as the slimy prime minister Amphibulos, but his part is minor, though he does much with his glances and gestures. Directed by Roy Boulting and Jeffery Dell and produced by John Boulting (who also did I'm All Right, Jack), one waits for the piece to spring to life but it never does. Thus, it's no surprise that this disc is the "bonus" title for those who buy Anchor Bay's six-disc "Peter Sellers Collection." There's just something about Carlton Browne of the F.O. that says "for completists only." Anchor Bay presents the black-and-white film in anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1) and in 2.0 mono, both in fine shape. Extras are limited to a Peter Sellers biography and filmography. Keep-case.