Next year at the Southend-on-Sea Film Festival in England, audiences will get to watch a pair of short films that haven't been seen in over 50 years, and were thought destroyed: Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia is Good, which star the legendary actor Peter Sellers and were co-written by Sellers and the Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler.
The films were produced in London in 1957, and are both spoofs of government public-information films from the time. The master prints of the two movies were found in 1996 by a man named Robert Farrow, who was cleaning out the offices of Park Lane Films, the now-defunct production company behind the films.
"As the building manager it was my job to oversee that each floor of the property was properly cleared prior to refurbishment back in 1996," Farrow said in a release. "I spotted 21 film cans in a skip outside the office block and thought they would be good for storing my Super 8 collection in. I took them home, put them in a cupboard and pretty much forgot about them."
It was only recently, while cleaning up at home, that Farrow decided to see what the tins contained, and discovered he'd lucked into something special.
Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia is Good both date from shortly before Sellers hit the big time with films like The Pink Panther and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. At the time the films were made, Richler had been living in London for a couple of years, and had yet to publish The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. The films will be screened at the 2014 Southend-on-Sea Film Festival in May.