This wildly funny farce gives the comic genius of Peter Sellers (The Party, What s New Pussycat?) free reign as he assumes several wacky personalities, each one funnier than the last! Superb direction by Vittorio De Sica (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow) and a sparkling script by Neil Simon (The Odd Couple) make After the Fox an absolute must-see. Millions of dollars worth of gold bullion is on its way from Cairo to an unknown Italian destination. There is only one criminal mastermind capable of stealing it: Aldo Vanucci (Sellers), also known as "the Fox." Aldo devises the perfect plan to seize the gold: Posing as a flamboyant film director, he casts an aging, egotistical film star (Victor Mature, Kiss of Death) and his own voluptuous sister (Britt Ekland, The Man with the Golden Gun) in a fake film about a gold theft! The stellar cast includes Martin Balsam (Cuba), Akim Tamiroff (The Black Sleep) and Italian comedy legend Lando Buzzanca (Sex For Sale).
When describing Hollywood in his classic book "Adventures in the Screen Trade," notable screenwriter William Goldman (winner of Academy Awards for 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' and 'All the President's Men') wrote that "Nobody knows anything." That seems as accurate an assessment of the industry as has ever been made because there's no telling what an audience is going to like or what a production team is going to create.
Just look at 'After the Fox' with its impressive pedigree of talent. Director Vittorio De Sica became an international sensation as a major contributor to the Italian neorealism movement with films like 'Shoeshine' and 'Bicycle Thieves' and later showed a flair for comedy with 'Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow' and 'Marriage Italian Style'. Among actor Peter Sellers' highlights by the mid-'60s were two appearances as Inspector Clouseau and three roles in Stanley Kubrick's 'Dr. Strangelove'. Neil Simon had achieved great success as a writer on television for 'Your Show of Shows' and on the stage with 'Barefoot in the Park' and 'The Odd Couple', the latter of which earned him a Tony. 'After the Fox' was his first screenplay. Unfortunately, their combined effort resulted in a comedy that's surprising light on laughs.
The film opens with the Great Gold Robbery of Cairo, although it's a rather pedestrian affair. The filmmakers signal the level of silliness in store for the viewers as the robbery of $3 million in gold bars is accomplished by distracting the transport guards with a scantily clad woman, which causes them to drive their vehicle into a larger one. The last man able to fence the gold is Aldo Vanucci (Peter Sellers), known as the Fox and a master of disguise. He is currently in prison, but breaks out when he learns of the behavior of his 16-year-old sister Gina (Britt Ekland), a feisty youngster who wants to live life.
While staying ahead of the police, Vanucci makes contact with the robbers through a woman seated at table. A funny gag occurs as she mouths the man's words as Vanucci learns the gold needs to be transported in two weeks. Vanucci ends up staging a film entitled 'The Gold of Cairo' in a small Italian town of Sevalio whose population embraces the film crew. Victor Mature gives a funny performance as Tony Powell, a faded movie star desperate for work regardless of how suspicious his manager (Martin Balsam) is of the whole affair.
'After the Fox' had great potential but it's not clear what it wants to be, which is a hindrance to its success. It's a vehicle for Sellers to play different characters, but there's nothing very memorable in his performance that stands out. It also spoofs the Italian film industry, which those familiar with the in-jokes might better appreciate but the humor barely rises above a '60s TV sitcom.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents 'After the Fox’' comes on a 25GB Region A Blu-ray disc in a standard blue keepcase. The disc boots up directly to the menu screen without any promotional advertisements.
The video has been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 2.35:1. The source is flawed and in need of a restoration. Colors usually come through in bright hues, except during Vanucci's prison escape where the objects seen in the rear projection are dimmer. Blacks are inky, whites are bright, and contrast satisfying. There are some clips from Mature's 'Easy Living' (1949) where the blacks are faded and objects don't have a sharp focus.
The film exhibits grain especially against the blue background of the sky in the opening, but it improves during the Sevalio exteriors. Grain increases during the end when smoke is used. There's good texture detail, as seen on walls, although a soft focus creeps into the background of long shots and the interiors of the Vanucci family apartment, which uses a limited depth of field.
White and black specks appear throughout. There's a slight flicker during establishing shots. Around 59 minutes, a clump of dirt appears at top of the frame for about a minute. At roughly 37 minutes as Vanucci runs from the police, a faint scratch runs down the left center of the frame. Over the course of about 20 minutes, it proceeds to make its way to the right side of the frame before disappearing.
The audio, originally a mono mix, is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. Dialogue is clear, though sounds flat and hollow during some of the dubs. The effects are serviceable. The presentation of Burt Bacharach's score helps demonstrate the clarity and how well it has been mixed with the other sound elements. While the source limits the dynamic range and placement of effects, the track sounds clean and doesn't reveal any signs of wear or damage.
'After the Fox' is a pleasant diversion that Sellers completists might want to seek out, but the film isn't essential viewing. Because of the issues with the video, it's a shame Kino didn't clean it up. I can't remember the last time I saw so many source defects. Buyer beware.