After the Fox (1966)
Film pairings can sometimes make for strange bedfellows and this hilarious at times flick does just that. From director Vittorio de Sica comes Peter Sellers poking fun at the film world and tarnishing leading man Victor Mature’s egotistical stature.
Peter stars here as Aldo Vanucci. Infamously known as The Fox. A master criminal currently in semi-retirement residing in an Italian prison. He’s such a good provider that his family and friends come on Sundays to visit and have him give them their weekly supply of cigarettes, money and food. Problems arise when he is told that his younger sister played by Britt Ekland may not still be the “good” girl he imagines her to be. An escape is in motion in order to save the family name.
Out within the day as promised he’s being pursued by police all the while donning various disguises to keep Britt in line and put out her desire to become a world famous movie star. She’s changed her birth name to Gina Romantica.
“If only I could steal enough to become an honest man,” says Sellers. He’s given just that chance when thief Akim Tamiroff needs him to move a fortune in solid gold bars. Now all Peter needs is a plan. With famous movie star Victor Mature in town he hits upon an ingenious idea.
Sellers sets out to make a movie involving a heist which will see Mature as his leading man stealing the gold of Cairo. He wins over Mature by passing himself off as Italy’s greatest neo-realism director. One that Mature’s agent Martin Balsam has never heard of. Balsam wears a scowl on his face throughout the proceedings and is constantly telling Mature we can’t turn back the clock. Mature’s ego won’t listen and his opening scene opposite Balsam is hilarious as he tries to prove he’s still young and agile. “Look at those teeth, Harry” he tells Balsam with the big wide Victor Mature grin.
Peter casts Ekland as the leading lady and then it’s off to a small town on the coast to film the landing of the gold. Upon arriving the town goes movie crazy and Peter has everyone including the local police chief and town mayor in his pocket. Complications arrive when the ship that is to meet them develops mechanical issues and Sellers must come up with some ideas to put before the camera.
It’s a madcap race down the stretch between Peter and Akim over who gets the gold and the local police in hot pursuit with crashing results.
While I realize this isn’t A Shot In the Dark hilarious it still strikes my funny bone at various times throughout this Neil Simon story from Italian director De Sica. Peter gets the chance to don a variety of disguises including a priest, a cop and is wonderful as the film director. Real life wife Britt is suitably sexy although she can’t seem to seduce her aging hero Mature.
In a way I have always thought this either a gutsy role for Mature or if one looks at it from the other side a disappointment taking on a role where he lampoons his screen image. I prefer gutsy and bravo to Mr. Mature.
With music by Burt Bacharach and a beautiful Sophia Loren wannabe in the form of Maria Grazia Buccella give this lesser known Peter Sellers romp a try. Under no circumstances tune out before the “evidence” is presented during the climatic scene and take delight in the aging Victor Mature’s attempts to hold on to his youthful days of stardom.