The Mouse That Roared (film)

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The Mouse That Roared
The Mouse That Roared British Poster.jpg
Original British quad format film poster
Directed by Jack Arnold
Produced by Walter Shenson
Written by Leonard Wibberley
Screenplay by Roger MacDougall
Stanley Mann
Based on The Mouse That Roared
Starring Peter Sellers
Jean Seberg
William Hartnell
Music by Edwin Astley
Cinematography John Wilcox
Edited by Raymond Poulton
Highroad Productions
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • 17 July 1959 (1959-07-17) (UK)
Running time 83 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $2,000,000 (US & Canada)[1]

The Mouse That Roared is a 1959 British satirical Eastman Color comedy film based on the 1955 novel The Mouse That Roared by Leonard Wibberley. It stars Peter Sellers in three roles: Duchess Gloriana XII; Count Rupert Mountjoy, the Prime Minister; and Tully Bascomb, the military leader. It also co-stars Jean Seberg. The film was directed by Jack Arnold, and the screenplay was written by Roger MacDougall and Stanley Mann.

Plot summary[edit]

The economy of the teeny-tiny European duchy of Grand Fenwick (which measures 3 by 5 bowshots) is threatened when an American manufacturer comes up with a similarly-named imitation of Fenwick's sole export, its fabled Pinot Grand Fenwick wine. Crafty prime minister Count Mountjoy (Peter Sellers) comes up with a plan: Grand Fenwick will declare war on the United States. Grand Duchess Gloriana (Peter Sellers again) is hesitant: how can meek little Grand Fenwick win such a conflict? Mountjoy explains that the plan is to lose the war, then rely upon American foreign aid to replenish Grand Fenwick's treasury.[2] Unfortunately for Grand Fenwick, Tully Bascome, the Duchy's general, captures Dr. Alfred Kokintz, his invention the Q Bomb, and Kokintz's daughter...and wins the war!



Liberties were taken in the film adaptation to display Peter Sellers' versatile comedic talents. The lead character of the book is the Duchess Gloriana XII, an attractive young royal in the manner of the young Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Grace of Monaco. In the film version, however, Peter Sellers plays the role as a parody of an elderly Queen Victoria (who thinks the President of the United States is Calvin Coolidge), whilst his Mountjoy is a parody of Benjamin Disraeli. The Marseilles and New York harbour sequences were filmed in Southampton, England. The presence of the RMS Queen Elizabeth ocean liner there was a lucky coincidence. In addition, in the novel an encounter with the New York Police Department leads to bloodshed that complicates peace negotiations. This does not appear in the movie. In addition, both Tully and Helen are with Dr. Kokintz when he discovers the bomb is a dud and it is Tully who suggests that they keep that fact a secret. However, a mouse emerges from the bomb's casing and it apparently resumes its normal function as an active weapon. At this, the film displays the title, "The End... We hope."

As there is no actual mouse in the film, title designer Maurice Binder added one in a classic opening joke with the Columbia Pictures logo and a return of the mouse in the last scene.

One scene has diplomats playing a board game called Diplomacy, although the game more resembles Monopoly rather than the game Diplomacy.


Television pilot[edit]

In 1964 Jack Arnold obtained exclusive television rights for The Mouse That Roared from Leonard Wibberley.[3] He produced and directed[4] a colour television pilot with ABC Television and Screen Gems called The Mouse That Roared, starring Sid Caesar as the Duchess, Mountjoy and Tully. It co-starred Joyce Jameson, Sigrid Valdis and Richard Deacon. However, the pilot was not picked up for production.[5] It was filmed by Richard H. Kline.[6]


Richard Lester directed a sequel, The Mouse on the Moon in 1963.


  1. ^ "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Reemes, Dana M. Directed by Jack Arnold McFarland, 1988. p.140
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links[edit]