Ghost in the Noonday Sun
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (5th December 2016).
The Film

Dick Scratcher (Peter Sellers) is the cook on a galleon pirate ship. When the Captain of the ship lands on an island to bury his looted treasure Scratcher kills him so that he can have the treasure for himself. However, Scratcher is not the brightest chap and has a habit of forgetting things like where the Captain buried his treasure. As Scratcher's adventures continue Scratcher starts to rely, more and more, on the ghost of the Captain he killed in order to keep his crew from killing him and to rediscover the lost treasure.

This film is an utter mess. I had an inkling of what I was about to watch when I read the press release the accompanied the disc. The film, and it's threadbare plot, are barely mentioned and instead the press release cheerfully collects quotes and anecdotes about the nightmare production. The director, Peter Mendak, said 'It was the biggest disaster of my life', whilst actor Murray Melvin recalls 'Peter Sellers arrived and this nightmare set in.' Some credit must be given to Fabulous Films for even releasing this film as apart from a showing on pay television in the 1980s and a forgotten VHS release, this film has never been seen - which is not surprising considering it was never properly finished. This release, therefore, is the worldwide premiere on DVD. As a curio it's interesting at least but as a piece of entertainment it falls woefully short.

The tales that surround the making of the film are far more interesting than the movie itself. Sellers undertook the film in a deeply depressed state in 1973 after breaking up with Liza Minnelli. Sellers had completely lost confidence in the movie and tried to get Director Mendak taken off the production and when he failed he did everything in his power to disrupt the film and prevent it from being finished. Sellers would often not turn up for work telling Mendak that he was sick only later to be spotted water skiing or participating in other activities. Desperate, Mendak employed the services of Spike Milligan, a close friend of Peter Sellers. Milligan was asked to help reign in Sellers behaviour and also contribute to the script and act in the film. In the end, such was the chaos of the production, that Milligan ended up in the director's chair and Sellers was still behaving as badly as ever. The film finally ground to a halt and the resulting footage was squirrelled away for over seven years until it's belated first screening on television. The film never received a theatrical run in cinemas and it's easy to see why. Next year, in 2017, Mendak is releasing a full length documentary called 'The Ghost of Peter Sellers' about the making of this movie and that sounds much more interesting than this film turned out to be. So, as a precursor to that documentary, this film is worth viewing on that basis alone and probably on the basis of how not to make a movie.

Video

The film is presented in the anamorphic ratio of 1.85:1. The picture quality is acceptable but hardly anything to write home about, which given the circumstances is hardly surprising. There is grain present throughout and the colours are fairly robust. The blacks are not very deep at all but overall for a film this old, and this unloved, it was better than I was expecting - but not by much.

Audio

The only soundtrack option available is the English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono option. The soundtrack is clear throughout with very little background noise and is acceptable. There are no subtitles available and I find that, in this day and age, quite unacceptable.

Extras

None.

Overall

From a historical point of view this film is interesting and probably one of the biggest messes I have ever seen. I'm not surprised it's been buried for such a long time. The story of the making of the film (there are plenty of articles regarding this subject on the internet) is far more appealing than the movie itself which makes Mendak's documentary that is due in 2017 an exciting prospect. From the point of view of a cinephile I'm glad that Fabulous Films have taken the trouble to release it but from an entertainment view it's an absolute, unfunny, disaster.

The Film: D- Video: C+ Audio: C+ Extras: F Overall: D-

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.