The British movie The Mouse that Roared came out in 1959, and I still remember going to see it. I vaguely remembered the story about the tiny European Duchy of Fenwick, a principality like Monaco or Liechtenstein, invading the United States with an army of soldiers clad in Medieval chain-mail and carrying bows and arrows, but not much else. I remembered nothing about the reason for the invasion, or how the two nations resolved the conflict.

So I decided to watch The Mouse that Roared again, on YouTube, to figure out whatever helped me remember a movie that I had not seen since I was six or seven years old..The movie starts in the tradition-ladened Duchy of Fenwick, an English-speaking enclave located near the Alps, between France and Switzerland. An elderly matron, the Duchess of Fenwick, played by the late Peter Sellers (died 1980), governed the tiny nation, with her advisor, the Prime Minister Rupert Mountjoy, also played by Sellers.

The movie's story starts with a meeting between the Duchess and her advisors and servants, and chaired by the Prime Minister Mountjoy. Mountjoy reveals that the economy of the Duchy, up to now, has depended entirely on the export of its Pinot Grand Fenwick wine to America. However, a California company has introduced a fraudulent knock-off product that threatens to put the Grand Fenwick wine out of business, thus threatening the Duchy's economy.

Mountjoy therefore proposes that the Duchy's army invade the United States, so that it can be defeated. The victorious United States will do what it always does for defeated nations--help them rebuild. So he contacts the Duchy's military chief, its erstwhile game-warden, also played by Sellers, about preparing the army and leading the invasion. The soldiers grumble about being called to duty but hope that, having invaded, they can surrender quickly. Since they will arrive in New York without visas, maybe the Coast Guard will simply turn them away, and they will have to return home. The elderly Duchess expresses the hope that no one will get hurt.

The soldiers don their traditional Medieval armor and arrive on the streets of New York. However, no one seems to be around for them to surrender to, only men in haz-mat suits. It turns out the Duchy has invaded the U.S. during one of its nuclear-war drills, and everyone has taken shelter, except General Snippet and other officers surveying the success of the drill. When the General's Jeep passes, the soldiers puncture the tires with their bows and arrows and take the General and the other officers prisoner. They also take prisoner Professor Kokintz and his pretty daughter. Kokintz has built a nuclear  weapon of his own, so the soldiers seize that, too, and head back to the Duchy of Fenwick, enthralled by their success. But when they arrive home, they find Prime Minister Mountjoy absolutely beside himself with rage, since the whole point was to surrender to the Americans, not defeat them.

The movie succeeds because it skips along with nimble humor and spontaneous, witty dialogue. The upbeat spirit of the movie helps it avoid bearing down on political issues, nuclear war, or criticism of the aristocracy. It tells a witty, intelligent story rather than honing in on a target--spoofing people, places, and things with light satire. So, two thumbs-up for The Mouse that Roared.