The first clips from two Peter Sellers films which had been thought lost have been released ahead of their premiere at the Southend-on-Sea Film Festival on 1st May.
The lost shorts Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia is Good for You both made in 1957, are amongst two of the earliest examples of Sellers’ film work, and have been described as “the movie equivalent of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
In Dearth of a Salesman, Sellers play Hector Dimwittie, a man who tries to become the most successful salesman in the UK. The same character features in Insomnia Is Good for You, in which he suffers from an anxious, sleepless night before an important meeting with his boss.
On a literary note, both short films were co-written by noted Canadian author and screenwriter, Mordecai Richler.
The films were salvaged from a garbage skip in 1996 by Robert Farrow, who rather than making a quick buck on the films, spent time, money and care on having them restored, as he explained to the Buckingham Advertiser & Review:
“I suppose I could have put them on eBay, which people kept telling me to do, but I really wanted to find the right home for them,” he said.
“I tried talking to various people over the years but unfortunately I cannot have been talking to the right people. I didn’t bother too much after that and just left them in a cupboard under the stairs and pretty much forgot about them.
“Eventually I thought I had better do something with them so I rang the local film festival. I’m ecstatic that they’re finally going to get the showing they deserve.”
Tonight Mr. Farrow will be giving a preview screening of the 30-minute films in Southend to critics and journalists, before the films’ official premiere in May.