Monday, 22 September 2008

After the fox

It is easy for me to see why "After the fox" became a cult classic after bombing at the box-office. I'm a sucker for madcap 1960's comedies and was impressed with how succinct Neil Simon's script played off against Vittorio De Sica's (Bicycle Thief) ability to match pace with multiple performances playing out simultaneously not just in the foreground but in the background also. Peter Sellers was spot on and played out the role of the notoriously gifted crook The Fox with a comic ease seen previously in What's New Pussycat but sadly shelved by people with less humor than sense.

Victor Mature plays a parody of himself as an aging Hollywood film star, right down I guess to his surname. One of the brilliant aspects of Neil Simon's script (and also Cesare Zavattini who collaborated on it) was the gags were so cleverly placed it mattered not how hammed the performances got, it would take a really over-the-top mistimed performance to block out the scene.

Of course at the end of the film there has to be a ludicrous vehicle chase seen, and this one ends in fine tradition with the car pile up. In Hollywood these days, bad movies end with dance scenes during the credits, a kind of "feel good" approach to what may have been a let down or mediocre film for the last hour and half - in the 60's chase scenes were more about exclaiming the comedy with a bustle of music and movement.

The film sets out to parody some of the more "arts" orientated directors of the time, including Vittorio himself who makes an appearance as a director of Biblical classics yelling "I want More sand in the desert, more sand in the desert" - quite contrary to the neorealist films he was renowned for directing himself.

Other moments of amusement I will not say otherwise I'll spoil them for anyone interested in having a rent of this flick.

I am biased however because I do really enjoy these kinds of films and another person would possibly struggle to sit through the first twenty minutes, but "After the fox" said and done is, as Neil Simon said "Funny in spots", "innovative in its plot", and "well-intentioned" - yes, it wasn't a hit and perhaps it isn't even considered a "cult classic" but I like having it on my DVD shelf to watch when I'm in the mood for some madcap 1960's fun.

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