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HONEY POT, THE(director/writer/producer: Joseph Mankiewicz; screenwriters: from the play Volpone by Ben Jonson & Frederick Knott /from the book by Thomas Sterling; cinematographer: Gianni Di Venanzo; editor: David Bretherton; music: John Addison; cast: Rex Harrison (Cecil Fox), Susan Hayward (Mrs. Lone-Star Crockett Sheridan), Cliff Robertson (William McFly), Edie Adams (Merle McGill), Capucine (Princess Dominique), Maggie Smith (Sarah Watkins), Adolfo Celi (Rizzi); Runtime: 131; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles K. Feldman; Charles K. Feldman; 1967-UK/USA)
This is really a stage production that doesn’t work that well as a movie.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”/”The Ghost amd Mrs. Muir”) directs and writes the screenplay to a remake of Ben Jonson’s play Volpone that was based on a book by Thomas Sterling. The Honey Pot was Mankiewicz’s final screenplay; he directed only two more major films before retiring from Hollywood.

Contemporary millionaire charmer Cecil Fox (Rex Harrison) poses as a dying man to three former mistresses to see how they react. Summoned to his deathbed in Venice for a final visit are the bland Princess Dominique (Capucine), has-been carefree movie star Merle McGill (Edie Adams), and showy Texas millionairess Mrs. Sheridan (Susan Hayward). William McFly (Cliff Robertson) acts as the personal secretary and gigolo employed by the sly Fox to attract the women to his estate. The true love experiment gets fully tested as Cecil soon finds out that one of his mistress heiresses has decided to help speed his death along. When Mrs. Sheridan is found murdered, Inspector Rizzi (Adolfo Celi) investigates her strange death. There are several twists and turns that are meant to give this bedroom farce an air of suspense. But this is really a stage production that doesn’t work that well as a movie.

The Honey Pot suffers from being too long, too silly, confusing in its too many nonsensical plot twists, and too wired in its jaw breaking dialogue for its own good (there was only an occasional howler in all the one-liners delivered). It only sweetens a bit because the talented ensemble cast works well under restraint (especially Maggie Smith in contrast with Rex), and Gianni Di Venanzo’s lush photography makes viewing a pleasure.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”