Before there were flames on the side of Madeline Kahn’s face in Clue, Peter Sellers was doing full-on yellowface in the Robert Moore’s whodunit? Murder By Death — and we talked to singer, dancer, actor, and RuPaul’s Drag Race icon Peppermint all about it!
Set up as a send up of the “old dark house” genre, the film had an incredible cast including the aforementioned Sellers in yellowface; the OG Obi-Wan , Alec Guinness; queen Maggie Smith; Columbo — I mean, Peter Falk, the Bride of Frankenstein Elsa Lanchester; Eileen Brennan, who also starred in Clue as well as literary legend Truman Capote and James Cromwell in his first feature role!
It’s a stacked cast — and the movie is super-duper fun — but the way they lean into the yellowface of it all makes it problematic, obviously. The movie also handles its female characters very interestingly and the real Asian who stars in the movie, Richard Narita, deserves some sort of award for having to act opposite Sellers’ yellowface. There is also some queerness that manages to find its way in there as well as bizarre representation of people with disabilities.
Murder By Death is wild and Peppermint and I had a grand ol’ time unpacking all of it!
Dino-Ray Ramos (@dinoray on Twitter and Instagram) serves as host and producer of Problematic Fave. Brian Aguilar (@bee.rhi on Instagram) also serves as producer and editor of Problematic Fave.
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