“Mr. Topaze” (Film Movement)

This is a scene from the 1961 movie "Mr. Topaze." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/GIMP via Film Movement)

By Catholic News Service

This 1961 comedy, adapted from a 1928 play by Marcel Pagnol, is the only feature for which celebrated comic actor Peter Sellers took directing credit. Sellers also stars as the titular character, a timid but rigidly honest schoolteacher in an unnamed French town.

After his inflexible integrity leads to a breach with his headmaster (Leo McKern), with whose daughter (Billie Whitelaw) he is in love, the naive instructor falls into the clutches of a Paris swindler (Herbert Lom) and his mistress (Nadia Gray), a musical-comedy actress. They play on his innocence to further their corrupt schemes but, in the end, get more than they bargained for from the underhanded arrangement.

Understated humor is the hallmark of this restrained and sophisticated parable, which begins as a comedy of manners but ends as a somewhat cynical tale of moral downfall.

An implied nonmarital relationship, a flash of partial nudity, a few mild oaths, vague sexual references. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association.

Currently streaming on Film Movement Plus, filmmovement.com/mr-topaze.

Click here for full reviews of this and other current movies by Catholic News Service.

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