(director: Vittorio De Sica; screenwriters: from the Neil Simon play “After the Fox”/Neil Simon/Cesare Zavattini; cinematographer: Leonida Barboni; editors: Russell Lloyd/; music: Burt Bacharach; cast: Peter Sellers (Aldo Vanucci), Britt Ekland (Gina Romantica), Martin Balsam (Harry Granoff), Victor Mature (Tony Powell), Akim Tamiroff (Okra), Lydia Brazzi (Mamma Vanucci), Lando Buzzanca (Police Chief) , Paola Stoppa (Polio), Tino Buazzelli (Siepi), Maurice Denham (Chief of Interpol); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Bryan; United Artists;1966-UK/Italy-in English )

Most of the stabs at satire miss the mark by a wide margin.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An uneven and bizarre farce. The comedy never fully gets going, but retains enough whacky features that still draw it to cult fans. Wearing many different disguises (doctor, priest, policeman and a New Wave movie director) becomes Peter Sellers main bid to get laughs. The humor seems forced and strained, which can possibly be blamed on the poor teaming of the ethnic Jewish writer Neil Simon and the neo-realist Italian writer Cesare Zavattini. Their talents don’t mesh when working together.

Vittorio De Sica(“Miracle in Milan”/”Umberto D”/”Bicycle Thieves”) directs as if befuddled by his characters, whom he never makes likable. Most of the stabs at satire miss the mark by a wide margin. What’s amazing is despite the presence of the international English star Peter Sellers, noted American writer Neil Simon and honored Italian director Vittorio DeSica, all acclaimed talents, the pic still never jells.

Aldo Vanucci (Peter Sellers), called the Fox, is a master thief imprisoned in Italy, who breaks out of jail to save the honor of his younger sister Gina (Britt Ekland). Tracking her down on the streets of Rome as an actress shooting a film, he dons priestly attire to drag her home to save her soul from being in movies. Aldo then successfully robs gold bullion worth three million dollars from a security van in Cairo and smuggles the gold into Rome. His scheme involves pretending to direct a movie, after stealing the equipment from a movie Vittorio De Sica was directing. Aldo’s movie is filmed on the Italian seacoast, and all the village locals and the police chief (Lando Buzzanca) are in it. The script calls for the extras to carry the gold ashore from boats.

Victor Mature steals the film in the ‘film within the film’ as the vain aging American actor trying to re-live his past glory days, as he performs in the fake movie in a beefcake role. Martin Balsam is Mature’s excitable agent; Akim Tamiroff is the thief who stole the movie equipment now used by Sellers.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”