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HISTORY

On 15 Mar 1964, NYT announced that filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz had begun working on his first film since the troubled production of Cleopatra (1963, see entry). The project, then untitled, was based on the 1955 Thomas L. Sterling novel, The Evil of the Day, and its 1959 stage adaptation by Frederick Knott, which debuted in London, England, as Mr. Fox of Venice. In addition to writing the screenplay, Mankiewicz would also produce and direct for United Artists. Later that year, several DV items indicated that development continued as Mr. Fox of Venice, and that Maniewicz had recruited actor Rex Harrison for their fourth screen collaboration.
       According to a 1 Oct 1965 DV production chart, principal photography began 20 Sep 1965 under the new working title, Anyone for Venice?” The 29 Sep 1965 Var indicated that Mankiewicz chose to return to Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Italy, where he shot Cleopatra. After three weeks on the studio lot, the 11 Oct 1965 Var reported that the unit had relocated for a week of filming in Venice, Italy, before returning to Cinecitta at the end of the month. It was around this time that Mankiewicz fired the original director of photography, Piero Portalupi, and replaced him with Gianni Di Venanzo. A 5 Dec 1965 NYT article noted that Di Venanzo opted to use “diffused lighting” that broke from the bright lighting schemes traditionally used in comedies. As a result, the 10 Nov 1965 DV reported that Harrison and co-star Cliff Robertson were forced to ... More Less

On 15 Mar 1964, NYT announced that filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz had begun working on his first film since the troubled production of Cleopatra (1963, see entry). The project, then untitled, was based on the 1955 Thomas L. Sterling novel, The Evil of the Day, and its 1959 stage adaptation by Frederick Knott, which debuted in London, England, as Mr. Fox of Venice. In addition to writing the screenplay, Mankiewicz would also produce and direct for United Artists. Later that year, several DV items indicated that development continued as Mr. Fox of Venice, and that Maniewicz had recruited actor Rex Harrison for their fourth screen collaboration.
       According to a 1 Oct 1965 DV production chart, principal photography began 20 Sep 1965 under the new working title, Anyone for Venice?” The 29 Sep 1965 Var indicated that Mankiewicz chose to return to Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Italy, where he shot Cleopatra. After three weeks on the studio lot, the 11 Oct 1965 Var reported that the unit had relocated for a week of filming in Venice, Italy, before returning to Cinecitta at the end of the month. It was around this time that Mankiewicz fired the original director of photography, Piero Portalupi, and replaced him with Gianni Di Venanzo. A 5 Dec 1965 NYT article noted that Di Venanzo opted to use “diffused lighting” that broke from the bright lighting schemes traditionally used in comedies. As a result, the 10 Nov 1965 DV reported that Harrison and co-star Cliff Robertson were forced to reshoot the first two weeks of footage. Writing about his experience on the set for the 29 May 1966 LAT, Robertson recounted how Mankiewicz refused to dub the actors’ lines when they made mistakes, therefore requiring certain scenes to be repeated dozens of times from the beginning.
       Mankiewicz’s perfectionism also extended to the art direction, as the 5 Dec 1965 NYT claimed he made $20,000 in last minute additions to the furnishings of “Cecil Fox’s” bedroom set. To prepare for the role of Fox, Harrison studied card games with a professional magician, and took ballet lessons. However, much of the critical dance scene was shot using a double.
       According to the 26 Jan 1966 DV, post-production was completed in London. Despite a 7 Mar 1966 DV report that Andre Previn had been hired to score the soundtrack, he was replaced by John Addison later that summer. On 3 May 1966, LAT announced that the title had once again been changed to The Honey Pot.
       The film opened in London the week of 22 Mar 1967, as a Var brief reported that Mankiewicz hosted a midnight preview screening at the Prince Charles Theatre the previous evening. The New York City debut was scheduled for exactly two months later, 22 May 1967. The 20 May 1967 NYT noted that the event was the first feature film screening to be held at the Trans-Lux West Theatre after a $150,000 renovation. Previously, the venue had been known as the Broadway Trans-Lux, and operated as a newsreel theater. An advertisement in the 28 Jun 1967 LAT announced the picture’s exclusive West Coast engagement at the Fine Arts Theatre in Beverly Hills, CA.
       The LAT review, published that same day, criticized the “unattractive” title, which made no reference to the plot or source material. An 11 Oct 1967 LAT article reported that United Artists later rebranded it as It Comes Up Murder. That change was reflected in all print advertisements, which called the picture “The Year’s Top Suspense-Murder Thriller.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1964.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1964.
---
Daily Variety
1 Oct 1965
p. 8.
Daily Variety
10 Nov 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
7 Mar 1966
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
3 May 1966
Section D, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
29 May 1966
Section K, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1967
Section E, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1967
Section E, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
11 Oct 1967
Section C, p. 20.
New York Times
15 Mar 1964
Section X, p. 9.
New York Times
5 Dec 1965
Section X, p. 13.
New York Times
20 May 1967
p. 39.
New York Times
23 May 1967
p. 52.
Variety
29 Sep 1965
p. 13.
Variety
11 Oct 1965
p. 32.
Variety
22 Mar 1967
p. 30.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITERS
Scr cont
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd mixer
DANCE
Choreog
PRODUCTION MISC
Executive prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Mr. Fox of Venice by Frederick Knott (London opening: 15 Apr 1959), the book The Evil of the Day by Thomas L. Sterling (New York, 1955) and the book Volpone by Ben Johnson (1605).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Mr. Fox of Venice
Anyone for Venice?
It Comes Up Murder
Tale of the Fox
Release Date:
22 May 1967
Premiere Information:
London premiere: 21 March 1967
New York opening: 22 May 1967
Los Angeles opening: 28 June 1967
Production Date:
began 20 September 1965
Copyright Claimant:
Famous Artists Productions
Copyright Date:
22 March 1967
Copyright Number:
LP34498
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
131
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Cecil Fox is a 20th-century millionaire living in the old world splendor of a 17th-century palazzo in Venice. After attending a performance of his favorite play, Volpone , he devises an intricate plan, Volpone -style, to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is a dying man. Although the three women are wealthy in their own right, all of them have good reason to covet his fortune. To assist him in his scheme, Fox hires William McFly, a gigolo and a sometime actor, to act as his secretary-servant. After receiving invitations to visit Fox at his deathbed and remain for the reading of his will, the three former mistresses arrive at the villa. First there is Merle McGill, a fading Hollywood sex symbol whose career was launched by Fox; second there is Princess Dominique, who once took a cruise on Fox's yacht; and third there is Lone-Star Crockett, a Texas hypochondriac who travels with an enigmatic companion/nurse named Sarah Watkins. As Fox and McFly act out their charade, the brazen Lone-Star boldly states that she is the only one entitled to the inheritance since she has been Fox's common-law wife. That night Lone-Star is found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills. Sarah Watkins immediately suspects McFly of murder and flatly tells him so. When he locks her in her room, she escapes in a dumb-waiter, ends up in Fox's chambers and discovers the "dying man" wildly pirouetting about the room (ballet dancing is his only unfulfilled ambition). It soon becomes apparent that Fox is Lone-Star's murderer. Flat broke, he had hopes of inheriting her vast fortune. Realizing his scheme has ... +


Cecil Fox is a 20th-century millionaire living in the old world splendor of a 17th-century palazzo in Venice. After attending a performance of his favorite play, Volpone , he devises an intricate plan, Volpone -style, to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is a dying man. Although the three women are wealthy in their own right, all of them have good reason to covet his fortune. To assist him in his scheme, Fox hires William McFly, a gigolo and a sometime actor, to act as his secretary-servant. After receiving invitations to visit Fox at his deathbed and remain for the reading of his will, the three former mistresses arrive at the villa. First there is Merle McGill, a fading Hollywood sex symbol whose career was launched by Fox; second there is Princess Dominique, who once took a cruise on Fox's yacht; and third there is Lone-Star Crockett, a Texas hypochondriac who travels with an enigmatic companion/nurse named Sarah Watkins. As Fox and McFly act out their charade, the brazen Lone-Star boldly states that she is the only one entitled to the inheritance since she has been Fox's common-law wife. That night Lone-Star is found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills. Sarah Watkins immediately suspects McFly of murder and flatly tells him so. When he locks her in her room, she escapes in a dumb-waiter, ends up in Fox's chambers and discovers the "dying man" wildly pirouetting about the room (ballet dancing is his only unfulfilled ambition). It soon becomes apparent that Fox is Lone-Star's murderer. Flat broke, he had hopes of inheriting her vast fortune. Realizing his scheme has failed, Fox does a dance of death into one of the Venice canals. And it is Sarah who inherits Lone-Star's wealth--and McFly. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.