Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973)

Article 3964 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 6-27-2012
Directed by Peter Medak and Spike Milligan
Featuring Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Anthony Franciosa
Country: UK
What it is: Pirate comedy

A cook on a pirate ship is taken on an excursion to bury treasure; he kills the captain and the other crew members on the excursion, and returns to the ship to take over the captain’s place, as he is the only one who knows where the treasure is buried. However, the map, written in disappearing ink, vanishes, and he ends up kidnapping a young boy who he believes can see ghosts in the hope that he can use him to locate the ghost of the dead captain and recover the treasure.

Reportedly, Peter Sellers suffered from heart problems, a streak of egotism and erratic behavior. He also wasn’t careful in his choice of material, and during the first half of the seventies, his career was at a low point for all of these reasons. Therefore, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this movie, especially when I heard it sat on the shelf for almost ten years before being released. Watching it, I realized its greatest problem was a simple one; it just wasn’t funny. The attempted jokes are dead on arrival, and though the movie makes some stylistic attempts to add to the humor (such as framing the first five minutes as a silent comedy), it does so unsuccessfully. In truth, the best thing I can say about this movie is that it managed to keep from annoying me, and I’d say the main reason for this is that Sellers was a sharp enough actor to keep the lack of laughs from causing him to engage in the type of desperate shtick that would make this kind of movie painful; he remains on an even keel throughout. In fact, truth to tell, none of the actors embarrass themselves here. As a result, the movie never becomes unwatchable. However, there is one thing that really did disappoint me, though I should have suspected it; the fantastic content that the movie promises is painfully slight, and the movie is sure to disappoint anyone hoping for something more.


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