Bobo, The (1967): Robert Parrish’s Tedious Romantic Comedy, Starring Peter Sellers and Then-Wife Britt Ekland

Robert Parrish directed The Bobo, a tedious serio-comedy, starring Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland, his then-wife.

The Bobo
The Bobo starring Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland.png

Theatrical release poster

The screenplay is based on the 1959 novel Olimpia by Burt Cole (aka Thomas Dixon).

Sellers plays the would-be singing matador, Juan Bautista. A theater manager offers to give him a big break if he seduces the beautiful Olimpia (Ekland) and spends an hour in her place in the dark. The ensuing plot centers on Juan’s attempts to woo the woman.

In one famous scene, Sellers is seen covered in blue dye as the “Blue Matador.”

The film was based on Burt ole’s novel Olimpia, published in 1959. In 1961, it was announced David R. Schwartz had written an adaptation called The Bobo, which Joseph Hyman was going to produce. Norman Jewison was going to direct it with Diane Cilento and Shelley Berman, seeing it as a fresh comedy.

In 1962, Caroline Swan was going to produce it.  However, the play never was produced. In August 1962, George Cukor announced he would make a film with Ava Gardner.

In May 1966, film rights to the play were owned by Eliot Kastner and Jerry Gershwin, who had just made Harper and Kaleidescope for Warner. They signed a deal with Peter Sellers to star in the film, and possibly direct it.

In August 1966, it was announced Sellers’ then-wife, Britt Ekland, would make the film. Eventually, Sellers decided not to direct and Robert Parrish took the job.

Filming took place in Italy and Barcelona, Spain, in August 1966 and Cinecittà Studios, Rome.

Sellers and Ekland were having marital problems, and his mother died during filming.

The New York Times wrote: “after sitting dutifully through it, I can tell you what a bobo is. It’s a booboo — and that goes not only for the title character, played by a strangely lackluster Mr. Sellers, but also for the film.”

The Bobo turned out to be both a critical and commercial failure.

Peter Sellers as Juan Bautista
Britt Ekland as Olimpia Segura
Rossano Brazzi as Carlos Matabosch
Adolfo Celi as Francisco Carbonell
Hattie Jacques as Trinity Martinez
Ferdy Mayne as Silvestre Flores
Kenneth Griffith as Pepe Gamazo
Al Lettieri as Eugenio Gomez
Marne Maitland as Luis Castillo
John Wells as Pompadour Major Domo
Don Lurio as Ramon Gonzales
Antonia Santiago Amador (La Chana) as flamenco dancer


Directed by Robert Parrish, Peter Sellers (uncredited)
Written by David R. Schwartz, based on play The Bobo by Schwartz and novel Olimpia by Burt Cole
Produced by Jerry Gershwin, Elliott Kastner
Cinematography Gerry Turpin
Music by Francis Lai
Distributed by Warner-Pathé Distributors (UK); Warner (USA)

Release date: September 28, 1967 (U.S.)

Running time: 103 minutes
Budget: $3 million

Films Directed by Robert Parrish

Cry Danger (1951) The Mob (1951) The San Francisco Story (1952) Assignment: Paris (1952) My Pal Gus (1952) Rough Shoot (1953) The Purple Plain (1954) Lucy Gallant (1955) Fire Down Below (1957) Saddle the Wind (1958) The Wonderful Country (1959) In the French Style (1963) Up from the Beach (1965) The Bobo (1967) Casino Royale (1967) Duffy (1968) Doppelgänger (1969) A Town Called Bastard (1971) The Marseille Contract (1974) Mississippi Blues (1983)