The World of Henry Orient (1964) – reviewed by George

I think the people who went to see this in 1964 must have been disappointed. I know I expected a Peter Sellers comedy, and instead this is a really sweet tale about two 14-year-old private school eighth graders who develop a crush on a midlevel classical pianist (Sellers).  The above-the-title billing is Peter Sellers, Paula Prentiss, and Angela Lansbury (looking hot in her late thirties). Immediately after the title the billing reads Merrie Spaeth and Tippy Walker, playing the starring roles of the two young girls.

Basically the girls are stalking the pianist in the pursuit of their fantasy crush, and their constant appearances are unnerving to Sellers since he is trying to seduce a married woman (Prentiss), with a singular lack of success. Her fear of discovery by her husband eventually infects Sellers, who comes to believe that the girls are junior detectives working for the husband.

It sounds much goofier (and funnier) than it actually is, but both girls have absent fathers, so psychological factors are in play and the film ends up being more touching than anything else. There are some misfires along the way, all having to do with injecting “Humor” to give Sellers more to do, for instance a scene where he hears a car backfire, thinks it is a gun, and runs upstairs to his apartment in a speeded-up silent-movie dash.

Now that you know what to expect I hope you’ll enjoy it.

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