Mr. Topaze

Mr. Topaze (released in U.S. as I Like Money) is Peter Sellers' directorial debut in 1961.[1] Starring Sellers, Nadia Gray and Leo McKern, as well as Herbert Lom.[2] His son Michael Sellers plays in the film in the role of Gaston. The film is based on the eponymous play by Marcel Pagnol.[3]

Mr. Topaze
British quad poster by Tom Chantrell
Directed byPeter Sellers
Produced byPierre Rouve
Written byPierre Rouve
Johnny Speight (script associate)
Based onthe play Topaze by Marcel Pagnol
StarringPeter Sellers
Nadia Gray
Herbert Lom
Leo McKern
Music byGeorge Martin
Georges Van Parys
CinematographyJohn Wilcox
Edited byGeoffrey Foot
Dimitri De Grunwald Production
Distributed byTwentieth Century Fox
Release date
  • 4 April 1961 (1961-04-04) (London)
Running time
97 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Out of distribution for many years, a print exists in the British Film Institute National Archive, which makes it available for viewing on their website.[4] The film was shown during the 2003 Cardiff Independent Film Festival.[5] It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on 15 April 2019 by BFI.


Mr. Topaze (Peter Sellers) is an unassuming school teacher in an unassuming small French town who is honest to a fault. He is fired when he refuses to give a passing grade to a bad student, the grandson of a wealthy Baroness (Martita Hunt). Castel Benac (Herbert Lom), a government official who runs a crooked financial business on the side, is persuaded by his mistress, Suzy (Nadia Gray), a musical comedy actress, to hire Mr. Topaze as the front man for his business. Gradually, Topaze becomes a rapacious financier who sacrifices his honesty for success and, in a final stroke of business bravado, fires Benac and acquires Suzy in the deal. An old friend and colleague, Tamise (Michael Gough) questions him and tells Topaze that what he now says and practices indicates there are no more honest men.


Critical reception

In The New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote, "for the most part, Mr. Sellers keeps himself too rigidly in hand—and the blame is his, because he is also the fellow who directed the film. He avoids the comic opportunities, takes the role too seriously," concluding that, "As a consequence, he's just a little boring—and that's death for a Sellers character."[6]


  • Lewis, Roger (1995). The Life and Death of Peter Sellers. London: Arrow Books. ISBN 978-0-09-974700-0.


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