Peter Sellers-Grand Duchess Gloriana XII
Peter Sellers-Prime Minister Count Rupert Mountjoy
Peter Sellers-Tully Bascombe
William Hartnell-Will Buckley
Jean Seberg-Helen Kokintz
David Kossoff-Professor Alfred Kokintz
MacDonald Parke-General Snippet
Austin Willis-U.S. Secretary of Defense
Colin Gordon-BBC Announcer
Stuart Saunders-QE Captain
Ken Stanley-QE Second Officer
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Many critic have panned this 1959 movie as being outdated. They say the satire is no longer relevant. They question the whole premise of the film and accuse it of being unbelievable. I must conclude that these are the same people that take life in general much too seriously and can't overlook the flaws of a film and just enjoy it. They probably take Road Runner cartoons very seriously also. After all, how can a coyote fall off a five hundred foot cliff, make a coyote shaped impression in the ground below, and survive?
With the admonishment to just sit back and enjoy it, this is a great film for Peter Sellers fans. He plays three roles in this story about the smallest country in the world declaring war on the United States.
The Duchy of Grand Fenwick is located in the French Alps and has a total area of fifteen and three quarters square miles. The army of Grand Fenwick consists of twenty uninspired volunteers. Their weapon is the longbow and their uniforms are chain mail. They are led Will Buckley (William Hartnell) who is their sergeant and Tully Bascombe (Peter Sellers) who is the hereditary Field Marshall for the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
The prosperity of the country depends solely on its main export, a wine called Pinot Grand Fenwick, and the United States is the main market for this wine. The country prospered until a California wine producer bottled an imitation of the wine and called it Pinot Grand Enwick. The market for Pinot Grand Fenwick soon dried up in the United States because of a vast advertising campaign by the imitators. This turned the small country into a state of crisis.
The prime minister sent three protests to the United States about the imitation wine but all three protests went unanswered. The parliament decided that the only way out of their predicament was to declare war on the United States, lose that war, and collect aid.
As luck would have it, the United States has scheduled a practice air raid alert for New York City on the day the Grand Fenwick army enters The Port of New York on their hired tug boat. All of the inhabitants of New York are underground in air raid shelters and the city is deserted. The alert is being held because of the invention of a very powerful nuclear device called the Q- Bomb. The Grand Fenwickian army can find no one to so they can begin collecting their foreign aid.
They wander around looking for someone to surrender to until they are spotted by a Civil Defense decontamination team in Central Park. The decontamination team thinks they are invaders from outer space because of their uniforms. Soon, word spreads all around the city that Martians have invaded in great numbers.
The Grand Fenwick army ends up at The New York Institute for Advanced Physics where, unbeknownst to anyone, Professor Kokintz, the inventor of the bomb, has built a working model. The Grand Fenwick army captures the professor, his daughter, the Q-Bomb, a U.S. Army General and four New York policemen.
Upon their arrival back in Grand Fenwick, Tully Bascombe informs the duchess that they won the war. This statement throws the government of Grand Fenwick into total chaos. They'd been planning for a loss, not a win. Both sides of parliament resign in protest and Tully Bascombe is elevated to the post of Prime Minister. Many countries in the world rally around the small country and offer to help protect them against an attack. Each country wants to take the Q-Bomb home for safekeeping.
The matter is resolved when the United States surrenders and negotiations are held. It is agreed that the imitation wine will be taken off the market. Grand Fenwick also demands a million dollars. The U.S. negotiator insists that they may have to take a billon dollars. Grand Fenwick also demands that they keep the Q-bomb and that there is a general disarmament supervised by the small neutral nations of the world. If that doesn't happen, they threaten to explode the bomb.
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