Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I Need More Sand in the Desert!

You might have caught this movie on late night tv years back. It doesn't seem to get much attention and I don't know why.

Made in 1966, it's known as Caccia alla volpe in Italian... or After the Fox. Directed by Vittoria de Sica, written by Neil Simon with music by Henry Mancini... it's a 60s dream team behind the camera, with Peter Sellers, Victor Mature, Britt Ekland and Martin Balsam starring.

Peter Sellers is Aldo Vanucci, a famous Italian crook, called the Fox, who poses as a New Age Italian cinema director called Federico Fabrizi in order to pull off the heist of his lifetime. His sister, played by Britt Ekland is his star-struck sister, Gina, who calls herself Gina Romantica. Victor Mature plays Tony Powell, a kind of spoof of himself, as an aging Hollywood leading man, clinging to his youth and a chance to rebuild a career in Fabrizi's new film (which doesn't really exist of course).

The public meeting of the two stars of Fabrizi's "film" has Vanucci introducing them as follows:

"Eenternationally handsome Tony Powell, meet your beautiful co-starrr, Gina Rrrromantica!"

You'll recognize the origins of the scene in Austin Powers: Goldmember, when Austin talks to Foxy, through the dubbing of Nathan Lane. Vanucci does the same thing, but in reverse, talking to a hot Italian bird to get information from a henchman.

It spoofs American tourists, Italian mamas, New Age cinema, caper movies and the willingness of the public to be fooled by the white heat of celebrity. And the great de Sica plays himself in a brief cameo on-set, declaiming "I need more sand in the desert!"

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