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Top 10 Peter Sellers Performances

VO: Dan
There are very few actors who have achieved similar fame for their dynamic acting ability and raw comedic talent as Peter Sellers. During his life, he starred in countless classics, most notable of which are the Pink Panther films in which he played bumbling Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau. To pay tribute to this screen legend, we have compiled a list of his best movie roles. Join as we count down our top 10 favorite Peter Sellers Performances.

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Top 10 Peter Sellers Performances

He has been hailed as the best British comedian since Charlie Chaplin. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our top 10 favorite Peter Sellers Performances.

#10 – Inspector Sidney Wang: “Murder By Death” (1976)

Kicking off our countdown is Peter Sellers' audacious role in a classic comedy murder mystery that is eerily reminiscent of a certain popular board game. As an Asian detective, Sellers provokes countless laughs with his complete disregard for racial sensitivity. You couldn't get away with this performance today, but his broken English, bizarre analogies, elaborate outfits and Fu Manchu mustache are still hilarious.

#9 – Various: “The Mouse That Roared” (1959)

Watch as the puniest country on Earth schemes to declare war on America in the hopes of receiving financial aid in the aftermath. Sellers crafts this foolhardy plan as Prime Minister Count Rupert of Mountjoy, then pitches it to – well – himself as Grand Duchess Gloriana XII. He finally executes the plan himself as the bumbling soldier Tully Bascombe. Only Sellers could cheekily entertain us while poking this much fun at real world politics!

#8 – Fred Kite: “I’m All Right Jack” (1959)

This is the role that launched Sellers' career and made him an international superstar. Sellers plays a determined factory owner who is fighting for the rights of his workers in this class-struggle comedy. While he isn't the film's lead, he manages to shine the brightest with a powerful performance that resonates against a backdrop of outlandish corruption and greed.

#7 – Sir Guy Grand: “The Magic Christian” (1969)

Sellers helps satirize wealth and materialism here as a senseless billionaire who haphazardly adopts an orphan, played by Ringo Starr. Together, they set off for a series of screwball adventures aboard his ship “The Magic Christian,” but not before Sellers takes wealth to the extreme by enlisting soldiers, anti-aircraft weaponry, machine guns and flamethrowers to hunt pheasants.

#6 – Henry Orient: “The World of Henry Orient” (1964)

Henry Orient is one of Sellers' lesser-known roles, but is still one of his best. Orient is an egocentric concert pianist with flowing hair, who is shadowed by a pair of teenaged girls who are scheming to be part of his life. Sellers' portrayal of this no-talent playboy is buoyed by his unique charm, as we watch him spend his days sleeping, womanizing and chatting on a hi-tech phone.

#5 – Clare Quilty: “Lolita” (1962)

This is a classic tale of forbidden love that tells the story of a college professor and his infatuation with a young girl. Sellers gives a brilliant, yet manic performance as an amoral American playwright who is vying for that same girl's attention. He enthralls viewers with his quirky, yet riveting tangents, unscrupulous behavior and use of countless disguises, and he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his trouble.

#4 – Chance the Gardener: “Being There” (1979)

Sellers took home a Golden Globe and received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an isolated gardener and avid TV watcher who shares his simple brand of wisdom with the inner circle of governmental power. By using subtle looks and gestures to illuminate serious situations and to satirize narrow-minded worldviews, he delivers an atypically straight performance that highlights his character's innocence.

#3 – Hrundi V. Bakshi: “The Party” (1968)

As an inept Indian actor who mistakenly gets invited to a swanky Hollywood dinner, Sellers makes extensive use of his legendary improv comedy skills. Sellers exploits the fish out of water premise by playing up his ignorance of Western culture, and by doing so, he gets more than a few awkward laughs.

#2 – Various: “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964)

In this madcap comedy, Sellers once again portrays a gaggle of memorable characters, and for them earned an Oscar nomination. His list of roles includes the would-be hero, a British exchange officer called Captain Mandrake, the fearful U.S. President Merkin Muffley, and the president's ill-chosen personal advisor, Dr. Strangelove, who attempts to manipulate the brass while hiding his Nazi sympathies. Just watch and you’ll see how Sellers makes made this one of the greatest comedies of all time.

#1 – Inspector Jacques Clouseau: “The Pink Panther” (1963)

Taking the top spot on our list is the role that earned Sellers an Academy Award for Best Actor. As the bumbling French inspector with the mustache and the nasal voice, Sellers clumsily injures everyone he meets while trying to prevent a diabolical theft. The film was a hit, and Sellers finally became a household name as he sleuthed his way through several sequels.

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