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.
Neil Simon’s screenplay is uneven but naturally has a good quota of wit, and Vittorio De Sica’s direction plays throughout for laughs. The Fox is a quickwitted crook who nevertheless manages to find himself in the cooler seven times in nine years. But he’s equally adroit at getting out. This time he makes the break (a) because he’s worried about his sister who, he has a hunch, is getting into bad habits as a film starlet, and (b) to arrange for the smuggling into Rome of the loot from a $3 million Cairo bullion robbery. He hits on the idea of pretending to make a film on an Italian beach and conning the local villagers and the police into landing the gold ashore as part of the ‘film script’.
The filming parody is better in promise than when start of shooting is actually being made, but even these sequences are good for plenty of yocks. Much of this is created by Victor Mature, roped into the film within the film as an aging, corseted film star fighting the wrinkles and still living in the past.