Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Peter Sellers
AFTER THE FOX (1966). Director: Vittorio De Sica.

Aldo Vanucci, a notorious criminal known as the Fox, escapes from jail to participate in the theft of a fortune in bullion known as the "Gold of Cairo." Working with a mysterious man named Okra (Akim Tamiroff), who only speaks through his beautiful companion, Aldo decides to make a movie about the theft and only pretend to be carrying off the gold. He inveigles aging American star Tony Powell (Victor Mature) to play the lead, and casts his aspiring actress sister, Gina (Britt Ekland) as his leading lady. The entire town turns out to participate in "Federico Fabrizi's" movie, but the best-laid plans ... Based on a play by Neil Simon (who also wrote the screenplay) this seems more like an attempt to cash in on the success of The Pink Panther and its sequels, but there's a reason why this never had any sequels. There are amusing and clever ideas and moments in the script, but they never quite jell, and the logistics of the crime are so hazy that the audience can't follow along, which is essential even in a comic caper treatment. De Sica may not have been the right director for this project -- he plays himself in a cameo -- but while star Sellers is good, he's simply not as farcical and as funny as he should have been; possibly he found the weak material uninspiring. Mature [Kiss of Death] is terrific as the vain actor whose dyed hair leaves streaks on Gina's face; Tamiroff [The Vulture] is as adept as ever; and Ekland [The Wicker Man], who was married to Sellers at the time, is also good and fetching. Martin Balsam has some funny moments as Tony's handler, and Lando Buzzanca makes an impression as a chief of police. This is one of those movies that probably looked hilarious on paper but just doesn't work out in actuality. The final gag is especially lame.

Verdict: Not one of Sellers' better movies nor performances. **.

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