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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

After the Fox
After the fox544.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Frank Frazetta
Directed by Vittorio De Sica
Produced by John Bryan
Written by Neil Simon
Cesare Zavattini
Starring Peter Sellers
Britt Ekland
Lydia Brazzi
Paolo Stoppa
Victor Mature
Tino Buazzelli
Vittorio De Sica
Music by Burt Bacharach
Piero Piccioni
Cinematography Leonida Barboni
Edited by Russell Lloyd
Production
company
Delgate / Nancy Enterprises
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
1966 (1966)
Running time
103 min
Country Italy
United Kingdom
Language English
Italian
Box office $2,296,970 (rentals)[1]

After the Fox (Italian: Caccia alla volpe) is a 1966 British–Italian comedy film directed by Vittorio De Sica and starring Peter Sellers, Victor Mature and Britt Ekland. The screenplay is in English, by Neil Simon and De Sica's longtime collaborator Cesare Zavattini.

Despite its notable credits, the film was poorly received when it was released. It has gained a cult following for its numerous in-jokes skewering pompous directors, including Cecil B. DeMille, Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni and De Sica; movie stars; their starstruck audiences; and pretentious film critics.[2] The film was remade in 2010 in Hindi as Tees Maar Khan.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • The Fox of Florence | The Life & Times of Machiavelli (ft. Blue from OSP!)

Transcription

Do you want to know the secrets of winning friends and influencing people? Are you interested in manipulating those around you to your whim? Do you too seek complete and total domination over the mere pawns of the world? Then you should probably consider a closer reading. [Intro] Machiavillain was born in 1469 to a well-to-do family in Florence, and if there was a place to be well-to-do in 1469, well, Florence was it. The Renaissance was in full swing you’ve got Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Botticelli, all working in Florence under the guy who ruled it. Well, technically Florence was a democracy, but ever since Lorenzo’s granddad got crazy rich and basically bought out the entire government the city was effectively under the rule of the Medici dynasty. It might not have been very democratic of them, but they did maintain peace in Italy for more than half a century, which was no small feat considering how freaked out everybody was about Venice creeping into the mainland. But alas, it didn’t last. Pope Innocent 8 got into a spat with the King of Naples, presumably got a little drunk and started rambling about “No! No you don’t get to be king anymore, God wants France to have Naples because his grandfather… married something”. Pretty soon they hugged it out and then both died, but a few years later Naples got into a fight with Milan and so Milan turns to France and says “Hey now would be a great time for you to, ah, inherit Naples” “I don’t know, Pope Innocent took back what he said and I don’t think the new Pope would be very happy about me doing that" "Oh screw the Pope, kick his ass!” “Aren’t you a cardinal?” “Yeah I mean I don’t know” “Looks like it’s war then” Now what does this have to do with Florence, you ask? Well, if you look carefully, you’ll notice that if you’re going from Milan to Naples you’re going to travel right through Florence and that’s exactly what France did. Lorenzo died a couple years ago and the new Medici couldn’t do much except become Italy’s Belgium. The Florentines get mad and chase him out of the city and that means it’s republic time, baby! And guess who got himself a nice new job in that nice new republic? This guy! He was kind of a diplomat-y foreign affairs guy who also was in charge of the militia. So some days he’d be having dinner with Cesare Borgia, a notoriously ruthless ruler who wasn’t afraid to kill his enemies to stay in power (sound familiar?), and his no less infamous father the Pope, trying to convince them not to take all the land (while simultaneously trying respectfully to ignore all the orgies, link in the description), and other days he’d be restocking the Florentine army with citizens instead of mercenaries because someone had to learn a lesson from Rome after a thousand years. Sure enough, that citizen army was just what Florece needed to march into Pisa and remind them who’s boss. But then another Italian War happens, and it’s messy, and it’s complicated, and it’s much bigger than Florence, but long story short: There’s a new Pope in town, the Warrior Pope, he calls for a Crusade against Venice because they won’t give him a couple of cities, then he gets scared of France because they have too much land in Italy so he switches sides and calls for a Crusade against France, so everyone starts beating up France, but then the Holy Roman Emperor won’t give Venice any land so Venice switches sides and somewhere along the way Spain gave Florence to the Medicis again. This is bad news for Niccolo because the Medici make like good princes and arrest and torture Machiavelli for being a leading figure of the old regime on the grounds that he was plotting a conspiracy against them. Luckily for world history, he denied everything for three weeks and they let him enjoy an early retirement, otherwise, why, Florence would have lost a fine playwright. No, seriously, he wrote plays, that was what he was known for towards the end of his life. They were sort of a few values from The Prince worked into stories -- A man tricks a married woman into sleeping with him by telling her that fertility drug he gave her will kill the first man she lies with so she should do the right thing and hook up with that other guy who’s totally not him Remember, kids, if you want the girl, all it takes is aspiration and cunning and you too can sit on a throne of lies! But theatre isn't his raison d'etre and he wants to make a good second impression on the new top dogs he begins to write a little book called the Prince, and for once a big book in history is actually a little book in real life! It’s only like a hundred pages it just has a deceptively large number of chapters so you have no excuse not to read it. You know who you are. He dedicated it to the Magnificent Lorenzo de Medici, which is super confusing because Lorenzo the Magnificent was that guy who kicked the Renaissance into ludicrous speed and all this Lorenzo ever did was have a daughter who’s more famous than he is. But Machiavelli was telling this guy “Hey, you guys did good taking back Florence, but leaders come and leaders go. You wanna stay in power? You gotta listen to me, be like those Borgia guys, like a foxssss.” “But the Borgias lost everything. And so did you.” “A run of bad luck” “But if you’re supposed to adapt to changes in fortune to avoid ruin...” “Also you should unify Italy” Now I’d love to wade deeper into literary analysis but there’s already an excellent video on the subject by, but of course, Overly Sarcastic Productions. But wait, don’t touch that dial, because you can get the long and short of it right here, straight from the horse’s mouth! Jack: Knock knock Blue: Who’s there? Jack: No time for jokes, I’m afraid, I’m already two weeks behind schedule. How would you like to talk about Machiavelli? Blue: WOULD I? Jack: Okay, maybe just the one joke. Thanks, Blue, you’re a life saver! Blue: Aw, man, this is exciting. SO, Machiavelli gets a bad rep for being evil, scheming, devious, and all of that bad stuff To the point where the word “Machiavellian” is almost exclusively derogatory. But behind all the murdery prince-y stuff, there’s another book, that’s much larger, far less well-known, and much more true to Machiavelli’s personal beliefs about politics. It’s his Discourses on Livy’s History of Rome, and it’s almost exclusively dedicated to the Roman Republic. So Machiavelli has one book in seeming praise of monarchy and princes, and another book in praise of republics. So you might rightly ask: which one is it then? Well… It’s both, but at different times, and for different reasons. So, I'll try to explain In the Prince, Machiavelli goes really hard on all the deviousness, but he explicitly says at the end of the book that the Prince’s most important job is to unite Italy under one banner and stop the centuries of warring that had plagued it. So don’t think of the Prince as “The Ends Justify the Means” so much as “Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures”. Now, let’s look at his Discourses on Livy, where he praises republics at length for their stability, fairness, and a whole host of other reasons, which, coming from Mr. “Gee I sure do love the Florentine Republic” shouldn’t honestly be that much of a stretch. Speaking of things Machiavelli loved: Ancient Rome. Oh man, Machiavelli loved Ancient Rome more than he loved most people. And this is relevant, because he took some notes from their government. See, the Roman Republic had a system where, during a time of crisis, one citizen would be chosen to preside over the whole city, like a king, for only as long as was needed to solve the crisis, after which point the Republic would resume. So when we put all that together, we get a much different picture of Machiavelli. He wasn’t a scheming madman, he recognized that Italy was in crisis during his time, and it needed the guiding hand of a prince to unify the country, after which it should pass into being a stable and fair republic. And given Italy as of right now is a unified Republic, I think Machiavelli would be proud. Moral of the story is “Don’t judge someone’s writing until you’ve analyzed their entire corpus and also studied their biography”... or, um, failing that, how about “Machiavelli isn’t evil, he just knew that desperate times, and desperate times only called for desperate measures”. Take it away, Jack! And that’s basically it! He never got back into power, died in 1527, the Prince got published five years later and Machiavelli became the father of modern political science. So, uh… yeah. Also he loved Rome so much he played dress up as an ancient Roman, and now I can say I haven’t been ignoring your suggestions! So thanks Wastheman, and thanks again to Blue for lending me a hand, if you like my videos I have a feeling you’ll love his. Take care!

Contents

Plot

The story begins outside Cairo where Okra (Akim Tamiroff), using a bikini-clad accomplice (Maria Grazia Buccella) as a distraction, hijacks $3 million in gold bullion. The thieves need a way to smuggle the two tons of gold bars into Europe. There are only four master criminals considered capable of smuggling the gold but each is ruled out: a Frenchman is so crippled he can barely move his wheelchair; an Irishman is so nearsighted he is arrested trying to hold up a police station instead of a bank; a German is so fat he can barely get through a door to escape; and an Italian, Aldo Vanucci (Peter Sellers), a master of disguise known as The Fox, but who is in prison.

Vanucci knows about the smuggling contract but is reluctant to accept it because he does not want to disgrace his mother and young sister, Gina (Britt Ekland). When his three sidekicks inform him that Gina has grown up and does not always come home after school, an enraged, over-protective Vanucci vows to escape. He succeeds by impersonating the prison doctor and convincing the guards that Vanucci has tied him up and escaped. The guards capture the doctor and bring him face to face with Vanucci, who flees with the aid of his gang. Vanucci returns home where his mother tells him that Gina is working the Via Veneto. He takes this to mean that Gina is a prostitute. Disguised as a priest, Aldo sees Gina, provocatively dressed, flirting and kissing a fat, middle-aged man. Aldo attacks the man, but it turns out that Gina, who aspires to be a movie star, is merely acting in a low-budget film. Aldo’s actions cost her the job, but he realizes that the smuggling operation will improve his family’s life. He makes contact with Okra and agrees to smuggle the gold into Italy for half of the take. Two policemen are constantly on Vanucci’s trail and he uses disguises and tricks to throw them off. After seeing a crowd mob the over-the-hill American matinee idol Tony Powell (Victor Mature), it strikes Vanucci that movie stars and film crews are idolized and have free rein in society. This idea forms the basis of his master plan.

Vanucci poses as an Italian neo-realist director named Federico Fabrizi. He plans to bring the gold ashore in broad daylight as part of a scene in an avant-garde film. To give the picture an air of legitimacy, he cons Powell to star in the film, which is blatantly titled The Gold of Cairo (a play on The Gold of Naples, a film De Sica directed in 1954). Powell’s agent, Harry (Martin Balsam), is suspicious of Fabrizi but his vain client wants to do the film. Fabrizi enlists the starstruck population of Sevalio, a tiny fishing village, to unload the shipment. When the boat carrying the gold is delayed, Fabrizi must actually shoot scenes for his faux film to keep up the ruse. The ship finally arrives and the townspeople unload the gold, but Okra double-crosses Vanucci and, using a movie smoke machine for cover, drives off with the gold. A slapstick car chase ensues, ending with Okra, Vanucci and the police crashing into each other. Vanucci, Tony Powell, Gina, Okra, and the villagers are accused of being co-conspirators and Vanucci’s "film" is shown as evidence in court. An Italian film critic leaps to his feet and proclaims the disjointed footage to be a masterpiece. Vanucci suffers a crisis of conscience and confesses his guilt in court, thereby vindicating the villagers but proclaiming that he will escape from prison once again.

The final scene shows Vanucci escaping from prison by impersonating the prison doctor - again. This time he ties the doctor up and walks out of the prison in his place. When he attempts to remove the fake beard which is part of his disguise, he discovers the beard is real and exclaims the "wrong man" has escaped from prison.

Cast

Production

This was Neil Simon's first screenplay; at that time, he had three hit shows running on Broadway — Little Me, Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. Simon said he originally wanted to write a spoof of art house films such as Last Year at Marienbad and the Michelangelo Antonioni films but the story evolved into the idea of a film-within-a-film. Aldo Vanucci brings to mind the fast-talking cons of Phil Silvers and the brilliant dialects of Sid Caesar. This is probably no coincidence since Simon wrote for both on television.[3] In his 1996 memoir Rewrites, Simon recalled that an agent suggested Peter Sellers for the lead, while Simon preferred casting "an authentic Italian," such as Marcello Mastroianni or Vittorio Gassman. Sellers loved the script and asked Vittorio De Sica to direct.[4]

De Sica's interest in the project surprised Simon, who at first dismissed it as a way for the director to support his gambling habit. De Sica said he saw a social statement to be made, namely how the pursuit of money corrupts even the arts. Simon believed De Sica also relished the opportunity to take potshots at the Italian film industry. De Sica insisted that Simon collaborate with Cesare Zavattini. Since neither spoke the other's language, the two writers worked through interpreters. Simon wrote, "He had very clear, concise, and intelligent comments that I could readily understand and agree with". Still, Simon worried that inserting social statements into what he considered a broad farce would not do justice to either. Yet, After The Fox does touch on themes found in De Sica's earlier work, namely disillusion and dignity.[4]

Peter Sellers told the press his main reason for doing the film was the chance to work with De Sica. After the Fox was the first film produced by Sellers' new Brookfield production company, which he formed in partnership with John Bryan, a former production designer. It was also their last production, as Sellers and Bryan had a rift over De Sica. Sellers complained the director "thinks in Italian, I think in English" and wanted De Sica replaced, Bryan resisted, for financial and artistic reasons. De Sica grew impatient with his petulant star, and did not like Sellers' performance nor Simon's screenplay.[5]

Victor Mature, who had retired from films five years earlier, was lured back to the screen by the prospect of parodying himself as Tony Powell.[5] Mature was always a self-effacing star who had no illusions about his work. At the height of his fame he applied for membership in the Los Angeles Country Club but was told the club did not accept actors. He replied, "I'm not an actor, and I've got 64 films to prove it!"[6] A clip from Mature's 1949 film Easy Living (in which he plays an aging football star) appears in the film. He agreed to make the film after a personal call from Sellers.[7] Mature also revealed that he based Tony Powell partially on De Sica, "Plus a lot of egotism, and DeMille, too — that bit with the fellow following him around with the chair all the time." Mature told the Chicago Tribune, "I not only enjoyed doing the film, but it gave me the urge to get back into pictures. They were an exciting group of people to work with."[8]

According to Neil Simon, Sellers demanded that his wife, Britt Ekland, be cast as Gina, the Fox's sister. Ekland's looks and accent were wrong for the role, but to keep Sellers happy De Sica acquiesced. Still, Simon recalled, Ekland worked hard on the film.[4] Sellers and Ekland made one other film together, The Bobo (1967).

Also featured are Akim Tamiroff as Okra, the mastermind of the heist in Cairo; Martin Balsam as Tony's dyspeptic agent, Harry; Maria Grazia Buccella as Okra's voluptuous accomplice; Lydia Brazzi as Mama Vanucci; and Lando Buzzanca as the chief of police in Sevalio. Simon recalled the Italian supporting cast learned their English lines phonetically.[4] Tamiroff had been working on and off for Orson Welles filming Don Quixote, playing Sancho Panza, which was never finished. Buccella was a former Miss Italy (1959) and placed third in the Miss Europe pageant. She had been considered for the role of Domino in Thunderball.[9] Lydia Brazzi, the wife of actor Rossano Brazzi, was hand-picked by De Sica for the role of the Fox's mother, despite her protests that she was not an actress.[4]

The budget for the film was $3 million, which included the construction of a replica of Rome's most famous street, the Via Veneto, on the Cinecittà lot and location filming in the village of Sant' Angelo on Ischia in the Bay of Naples. The Sevalio sequences were shot during the height of the tourist season. Reportedly the villagers of Sant' Angelo were so busy accommodating tourists they had no time to appear in the film and extras were brought in from a neighboring village.[4]

Simon lamented that De Sica insisted on using his own film editors—two individuals who did not speak English and thus did not understand the jokes.[4] The film was later re-cut in Rome by one of John Huston's favorite film editors, Russell Lloyd, but Simon believes more funny bits "are lying in a cutting room in Italy". (Apparently there was a cut scene where Vanucci impersonated one of the Beatles.[10]) The voices and accents of the Italian comic actors were dubbed in London, mainly by Robert Rieti and edited in Rome by Malcolm Cooke, who had been a post-sync dialogue editor on Lawrence of Arabia.[citation needed]

Simon summed up his opinion of the film: "to give the picture its due, it was funny in spots, innovative in its plot, and was well-intentioned. But a hit picture? Uh-uh ... Still today, After the Fox remains a cult favorite."[4]

Burt Bacharach composed the score and with lyricist Hal David wrote the title song for the film. For the Italian release, the score was composed by Piero Piccioni.[11] The title song "After the Fox" was recorded by The Hollies with Sellers in August 1966 and released by United Artists as a single (b/w "The Fox-Trot").[12][13]

Release

After the Fox was released in Great Britain, Italy and the United States in December 1966.[14] As part of a publicity barrage, United Artists announced that it had signed Federico Fabrizi to direct three films. The story was to be planted in the trade papers and then appear in general newspapers, with Sellers available for telephone interviews in character as Fabrizi. The editors of Daily Variety recognized the fictional name immediately, however, and spoiled the gag.[15]

The film received mixed reviews. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther summed up his review, "It's pretty much of a mess, this picture. Yes, you'd think it was done by amateurs".[3] The Variety reviewer thought "Peter Sellers is in nimble, lively form in this whacky comedy which, though sometimes strained, has a good comic idea and gives the star plenty of scope for his usual range of impersonations".[16] The Boston Globe called the film "funny, fast and wholly ridiculous," and thought Sellers' portrayal of Fabrizi "hilarious."[17] Billboard call the film "a series of fun-filled satires...guaranteed for laughs," and thought Sellers was "at his droll best" and Mature "hilarious."[18] Monthy Film Bulletin, however, wrote, "Continuing the De Sica's decline of recent years, this witless comedy of incompetent crooks and excitable Italians never even begins to get off the ground," and called Seller's performance "self-indulgent," but singled out Mature as "amusing and touching."[19]

Opinion continues to be divided. After the Fox is rated 6.5/10 on IMDB, an average of more than 2,500 user ratings. The review aggregator Web site Rotten Tomatoes reported a 71% approval rating with an average rating of 5.6/10, based on seven reviews.[20]

The film has some kinship with What's New Pussycat?, which was released the previous year and also starred Sellers. That film was the first written by Woody Allen who, like Neil Simon, had been a staff writer for Sid Caesar. Even the advertising tagline on the posters and trailer for After The Fox proclaimed, "You Caught The Pussycat ... Now Chase The Fox!".[5] The poster art for both films was illustrated by Frank Frazetta.[21]

Influence

The device in which robbers use a movie set to cover a robbery is also in Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run (1969). In the television series Batman, it is used in the 1968 episode titled "The Great Train Robbery".

The scene in the film where Aldo speaks to Okra through the beautiful Maria Grazia Buccella inspired a similar scene in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002), in which Austin Powers talks to Foxxy Cleopatra through the Nathan Lane character.[citation needed]

The Bollywood movie Tees Maar Khan (2010) is a remake of After the Fox.[22]

References

  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968, p. 25.
  2. ^ Erickson, Hal. "After the Fox: Overview". AllMovie. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley (24 December 1966). "After the Fox (1966). Screen: 'After the Fox': First Neil Simon Film Has Local Premiere". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Simon, Neil (1996). "La Dolce Vita". Rewrites: A Memoir. ISBN 0-684-82672-0.
  5. ^ a b c McKay, James (2012). The Films of Victor Mature. McFarland. pp. 20, 165–166. ISBN 978-0-7864-4970-5.
  6. ^ Thomas, Kevin (7 December 1966). "Victor Mature Hits Stride". Los Angeles Times (1923–Current File). p. D15.
  7. ^ Victor Mature Hits Stride Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 7 December 1966: D15.
  8. ^ Chicago Tribune, Jan 15, 1967.
  9. ^ "Production Notes – Thunderball". MI6. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  10. ^ "The Faces Of Sellers," The Baltimore Sun, 1 Aug. 1965
  11. ^ Spencer, Kristopher (2008). Film and Television Scores, 1950–1979: A Critical Survey by Genre. McFarland. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-7864-5228-6.
  12. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (2002). The Great Rock Discography. Canongate. p. 495. ISBN 978-1-84195-312-0.
  13. ^ Neely, Tim; Popoff, Martin (2009). Goldmine Price Guide to 45 RPM Records. Krause. p. 316. ISBN 0-89689-958-6.
  14. ^ Munden, Kenneth White (1997). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States. University of California Press. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-0-520-20970-1.
  15. ^ "Hocus Pocus Vs. Pokus-Hoaxers on UA's Fabrizi," Variety, 23 Nov. 1966
  16. ^ Variety staff (31 December 1965). "Review: After the Fox". Variety. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  17. ^ Boston Globe; Dec 16, 1966; p. 38
  18. ^ Boxoffice, Dec 12, 1966.
  19. ^ Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 33, Iss. 384, (Jan 1, 1966): 168.
  20. ^ "After the Fox (1966)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  21. ^ Booker, M. Keith (2014). Comics through Time: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. ABC-CLIO. p. 587. ISBN 978-0-313-39751-6.
  22. ^ "It's official: Tees Maar Khan is a remake". Rediff.com. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010.

External links

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