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  Caprice Cosmetic Forgery
Year: 1967
Director: Frank Tashlin
Stars: Doris Day, Richard Harris, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, Edward Mulhare, Lilia Skala, Irene Tsu, Larry D. Mann, Maurice Marsac, Michael Romanoff, Lisa Seagram, Michael J. Pollard
Genre: Comedy, Romance, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Patricia Foster (Doris Day) is in Paris where she works, and after noting the headline in the newspaper about an Interpol agent "riddled with bullets" in Switzerland she makes her way to the nearest restaurant where she has a meeting. This is with a man who wants an envelope she has of industrial secrets, and after asking firmly for him to take off his trousers so he cannot follow her, she hands over the document and is about to make good her escape when the Sûreté catch her. Her boss, Sir Jason Fox (Edward Mulhare), claims to be baffled - why did she jeopardise her career?

Ah, but did she? There were sundry twists and turns in Caprice, a movie Day claimed she never wanted to do but after frequent showings on television since it flopped in the cinemas, it amassed a cult following among those who found its whimsy appealed to them. Not that it was actually that good, but it was nowhere near as bad as Doris thought it was, and you can see why some divined worth here - not including her co-star Richard Harris, who actively detested it and judged it to be one of his worst efforts (there was a rumour he had walked off a plane when he discovered this was the in-flight movie - while it was in the air!).

Well, maybe he didn't hate it that much, but with Frank Tashlin at the helm you at least had a hope there would be an abundance of goofy gags and a bright, flashy visual sense. On that count you would be correct, but by this stage in his career the sixties had caught up with his style and it wasn't looking quite as hip and happening as it had when, say, he was directing his madcap cartoons or teaching Jerry Lewis all he knew about guiding big screen comedy. Nevertheless, although the strain of trying to keep things as lighthearted as possible did show through many of the sequences, there was something so fluffy about Caprice that made it hard to actively dislike.

At least at this remove where its gloss retained a neat spirit of the popular culture of the decade - not for nothing was the Adam West Batman show appearing on television in one scene, it was a movie that fit this silliness all too well. This in spite of a move towards James Bond spy spoofery that was all the rage and resulted in a deadly ski chase which appeared to foreshadow On Her Majesty's Secret Service of a couple of years later (though without a certain gory punchline). Day was essaying the role of an agent for her boss who had set her up as a candidate for rival Ray Walston's cosmetics firm so she may gather his secrets, but Harris was the complication as a double agent who the audience, never mind Patricia, were unsure about whose side he was on.

He was on his own side, of course, and although playing an Englishman to court comparisons to Cary Grant in Charade he managed some degree of charm, so that you'd never know he wasn't enjoying himself (what a pro) and he did go on to compliment Day, so the experience was not a dead loss. Yes, it was daft to a fault, but there was something to be said for bright and wacky ephemera, and such sequences where Patricia followed model Irene Tsu around to get a lock of her hair to be examined back at the lab - she's wearing a special new hairspray which repels water - were just inane enough to be amusing, especially when Irene's boyfriend turns out to be Michael J. Pollard (there's an odd couple). The trouble with this being as gossamer as it is was that there was precious little to get your teeth into, and while some of the jokes raised a giggle too many others verged on the heavy-handed and obvious. If this sounds like your thing, you'd doubtless appreciate it. Music by De Vol.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Frank Tashlin  (1913 - 1972)

American director whose films were heavily influenced by his years spent working in cartoons. In his 20s and 30s, Tashlin worked at both Disney and Warner Brothers in their animation studios, before moving into comedy scriptwriting in the late 1940s, on films like Bob Hope's The Paleface. Tashlin moved into directing popular live-action comedies soon after, with Hope in Son of Paleface, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Artists and Models and Hollywood or Bust, and most notably Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? These films were full of inventive, sometimes surreal touches, and used many of the techniques Tashlin had learnt as an animator. Continued to work during the sixties, but without the success of the previous decade.

 
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