‘Easy Living’ in ‘After the Fox’

If I say “mid-’60s madcap Peter Sellers comedy, with a theme song by Burt Bacharach and poster art by Frank Frazetta,” what movie comes to mind? Most likely it’s What’s New, Pussycat? (1965), but today’s topic is Pussycat‘s sort of sequel, After the Fox.

I say “sort of” because the movies don’t have common characters or plot elements, just the features listed above and United Artists as a production company. And that allowed the Pussycat reference in the After the Fox poster.

The movie was recommended to me by Eric Hanson, who was inspired to stream it on Amazon Prime because of its noteworthy creators: Sellers as star, Neil Simon as writer (this was his first screenplay), and Vittorio De Sica as director. De Sica also has a cameo as himself, directing a biblical epic with “John Huston” playing Moses. It’s not the real John Huston, just one of many cinematic in-jokes in After the Fox. Earlier in 1966, Huston had played Noah in his own epic, The Bible.

Anyway, Eric had commended it to my attention because of yet another in-joke, the movie-in-movie scene. I will set it up as simply as possible. The movie takes place in Italy and Sellers plays a criminal on the run from the law. Britt Ekland (his wife at the time) is his sister. Victor Mature is Tony Powell, a washed-up American actor who happens to be in Rome at the time and has just been set on by a mob of adoring fans.


A couple of things to unpack. The first poster they see is for Crimine a Due, a real 1964 Italian horror film. The poster for the movie they do see says Il Giocatore (“The Player.”) There is no such movie but it fits with the film that’s being screened in the theater, Easy Living, a 1949 melodrama starring Lizabeth Scott and Mature as a washed-up football player. Then we see Mature as Tony Powell in the present day, in a hotel room with his agent, played by Martin Balsam, whom it’s always good to see.

And finally, full credit to Mature. He came out of retirement (his first of several) to spoof himself, even consenting to submit himself to egregious hair dye. That’s what I call taking one for the team.