A Sellers Rarity
[SELLERS, Peter] GREIFER, Lewis and RICHLER, Mordecai

Insomnia Is Good For You

London: Park Lane Films, 1957

Shooting script, 33 mimeographed pp., stapled in to oversized red card wrappers. Typed title label to front cover, typed ownership label ('Park Lane Films Ltd., Quadrex House, Park Lane, W.1.') to inside front cover. Contents very clean, covers a little creased at edges, and with one small (1cm) closed tear to leading edge.


In 1955 Peter Sellers was a huge radio star, thanks mostly to The Goon Show, but the film career which would later come to define him was yet to begin.  1955 was the year he appeared in his first major feature, The Ladykillers, with his idol Alec Guinness. Both the film and Sellers' performance in it garnered excellent reviews, but somehow it failed to launch him, and for the next two years he continued to work on The Goon Show, appearing on screen only in spin-offs from his radio work -- most notably The Case Of The Mukkinese Battle-Horn (1956), the closest a camera ever came to reproducing The Goon Show formula successfully. But in 1957 Sellers broke through at last: roles in The Smallest Show On Earth and The Naked Truth brought him to the attention of the Boulting Brothers. They cast him in Carleton-Browne Of The F.O. and I'm All Right Jack, both released in 1959, after which Sellers' cinematic future was assured.

But at the beginning of 1957, Sellers was still hustling, and he agreed to star in three low-budget short features, comic pastiches of government information films: Cold Comfort, Dearth[sic] Of A Salesman and Insomnia Is Good For You. Insomnia... was produced by a new and unknown company, Park Lane Films, directed by Leslie Arliss, and co-written, in his screenwriting debut, by the Canadian novelist Mordechai Richler. (Richler would later work uncredited on the film adaptation of Room At The Top (1959); he would make his most important contribution to cinema in 1974, with the criminally underappreciated The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, adapted from his own novel and starring a pre-Spielberg Richard Dreyfuss). Richler and Lewis Greifer's screenplay is light on dialogue and heavy on voiceover (provided by Sellers himself), and makes frequent use of stock footage -- all of which suggests both a tight budget, and a star desperate for screen time.

In Insomnia Is Good For You Sellers plays Hector Dimwittie, a pen-pushing office worker. One Monday morning he is told by his boss to report to his office the following Friday. Dimwittie spends the intervening week unable to sleep, convinced he is about to be fired. When Friday comes he discovers that his boss merely wants him to spend the weekend showing some important clients the town. Relieved but shattered, he falls unwakeably asleep in the first bar they visit.

Ropey prints of both Cold Comfort and Dearth Of A Salesman were shown at the Cardiff Screen Festival in 2004 but seem not to have been seen since, and Insomnia Is Good For You seemed to have been lost completely -- until earlier this year, when the story broke that a Mr. Robert Farrow found twenty film cans discarded in a skip in Park Lane in the early 1990s, and kept them safe. Six contained the master prints of all three films; six others contained the negatives; a further six had the soundtracks; and the last two contained the titles, credits and cuts. Insomnia Is Good For You was re-premiered earlier this year at the Southend Film Festival.

Until Insomnia..'s re-emergence, information about the film was almost non-existent. This script remains the only known surviving artefact from its production.

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