(1966)2.5Dan FriedmanWhile Peter Sellers is more often than not identified with his role in the Pink Panther films, some of his overlooked films take advantage of that association by utilizing the same brand of humor to carry them off. After The Fox combines not only aspects of A Shot In The Dark but some from What's New, Pussycat as well. Sellers plays a master Italian criminal who escapes from prison in order to facilitate the landing of a large cache of stolen gold. In addition to an exaggerated Italian accent, Sellers uses his fugitive status to don numerous disguises, some of such absurdity that even though he plays it relatively straight it is still very funny. His master plan for receiving the gold is to pose as a film director and pretend that the smuggling is simply part of his movie's staging. This allows Sellers to don yet another persona which is pre-disposed to a form of ridiculousness. Hollywood veteran Victor Mature is on hand as a reluctantly aging movie star who Sellers dupes into appearing in his "film" to give the illusion a boost. Indeed, Sellers is able to enrapture an entire Italian village with the promise of appearing in a movie, thereby providing a very clever swipe at the themes of glamour and celebrity. Britt Ekland plays Sellers's sister, a talentless wannabe starlet who is on the verge of turning him in to the authorities if he doesn't let her pursue her ambitions. The director, Vittorio De Sica, brings a natural European flavor to the film and gives himself a rather humorous cameo, but screenwriter Neil Simonseems to be playing it close to the vest given his body of work. Most of the bawdy laugh-out-loud situations are based more on the mugging of Sellers than any clever one-liners. The most consistently funny character is Martin Balsam's Hollywood agent, who smells a rat from the very beginning and attempts to keep Mature from making a fool of himself. It may not be a popular member of the Sellers canon, but it is still worth seeking out for a laugh.