Sunday, December 10, 2017
The Naked Truth (1957)
I was just a little bit put off when I discovered that Peter Sellers was also among the stars. Sellers is far from being one of my favourites. In fact he’s really not too bad in this one and luckily the rest of the cast is quite superb.
It’s a splendid idea. The smooth, charming but thoroughly unscrupulous Nigel Dennis (Dennis Price) publishes a scandalous gossip magazine but his main business is blackmail. Having dug up particularly embarrassing dirt on famous people he threatens to publish the results in his magazine, The Naked Truth. Most of his victims pay up but if they don’t it doesn’t really matter - he still makes money from them indirectly by publishing the details of their scandals in the magazine.
The scheme is cunningly organised in such a way as to make successful prosecution for blackmail almost impossible.
Of course they turn out to be rather incompetent amateurs when it comes to murder. Their plans are ingenious but tend to misfire rather badly. If any of them had chosen the simple direct approach to murder they might have succeeded but the simple direct approach does not occur to them.
They find themselves having to master other crimes as well as the plot builds to a clever climax which even manages to involve an airship!
My reservations about Peter Sellers are similar to my reservations about Alec Guinness as a comic actor. Both seem to me to be too self-conscious and to be trying too hard and they’re often very clever without being especially funny. In this case though Sellers is reasonably amusing.
Peggy Mount is delightfully outrageous as the crime writer who is thrilled by the idea of carrying out a real murder and she gets fine support from Joan Sims as her incredibly nervous daughter who is a very unwilling but dutiful accomplice. Shirley Eaton proves herself to be more than capable when it comes to comedy and of course she adds a touch of glamour.
Dennis Price is a terribly underrated British actor of this era. His comic style was suave and understated which contrasts nicely with the bravura performances of the other stars.
The Region 4 DVD which I saw (part of a three-movie Peter Sellers collection) is barebones but the transfer is quite satisfactory.
The Naked Truth delivers the comedic goods in fine style. Highly recommended.