After the Fox
The odd teaming of Italian neo-realist director Vittorio DeSica (The Bicycle Thief), virtuoso comedian Peter Sellers and screenwriter Neil Simon may have raised eyebrows when this caper-comedy went into production, but After the Fox doesn't result in much more than question marks and yawns. Following its Pink Panther-derivative animated credit-sequence, After the Fox feels like a film without a script. Sellers stars as famous thief "The Fox," enlisted to pull off a major gold heist. His clever plan is to masquerade as a film production crew so that the police will protect him rather than suspect him. While this high-concept idea allows DeSica to superficially parody the neo-realist movement he was such an integral part of, it is too pitifully underdeveloped to fill a 100-minute movie. It takes longer than an hour for The Fox to even hatch his plan, the preceding portion of the film spent in apparent improvisation as Sellers prances around in different costumes acting wacky as he eludes the hopeless detectives on his trail. Once the plan is under way, and Sellers recruits a has-been matinee icon (Victor Mature) to star in his make-believe picture, the whole endeavor picks up pace only to devolve once again into loud but unamusing chaos. Fans of Sellers will like a few things in After the Fox, but as there's no support from his script or director his forced wackiness often feels like desperate overcompensation. One can only assume that screenwriter Simon was nowhere near the set during filming, and nowhere near his typewriter beforehand. Burt Bacharach's repetitive, bizarre score has to rank amongst the most annoying ever, and will haunt you in your dreams. MGM's DVD offers a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1), although the source-print shows wear, while Dolby Digital audio is monaural. Trailer, keep-case.