When an aging philanthropist falls on hard times, her butler starts to rob the rich so that she can keep on giving to the poor in this comedy. Claude Fitzwilliam (Dick Van Dyke), known to his friends as "Fitzwilly," works as a butler for Victoria Woodworth (Edith Evans), who -- ever since the death of her husband -- has been using her inheritance to benefit her favorite charitable causes. However, no one has the heart to tell Mrs. Woodworth that she doesn't have much money left, and to compensate for the shortfall brought on by her philanthropy, Fitzwilly and his fellow domestics have been pulling a series of robberies at department stores. When Mrs. Woodworth gets the idea of compiling "A Dictionary for Dopes," which indexes phonetic spellings of commonly misspelled words, she hires Juliet Nowell (Barbara Feldon) to help on the project as a secretary. Juliet senses that there's something fishy about Fitzwilly, especially when she finds out that he has a college education but earns a meager salary as a butler, and she imagines the worst when she finds out about his criminal activities. Watch for Sam Waterston in a small role; this was his first film.
by Mark Deming synopsis