Having started with the year of my birth in the first post in this series, we now move on to 1967, which was a great year for films in general. I’m not going with the obvious choice, which is the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, but rather with what I consider a largely-overlooked gem, Fitzwilly.
Starring Dick Van Dyke as the title character and Barbara Feldon (“Agent 99” from the TV series Get Smart), Fitzwilly is an hilarious caper film. Fitzwilly is the ever-loyal butler to Miss Victoria Woodworth in contemporary Manhattan, struggling to help her maintain her lavish lifestyle of butlers and maids and cooks and manservants by engaging in ongoing scams and endless con games. And of course the whole household staff is in on the capers as well.
In comes Juliet Nowell (Feldon), who as a newcomer to the household to assist Miss Vicky with the preparation of a book. She is unaware of all the scheming going on behind Miss Vickie’s back, and there’s a bit of a romantic back-and-forth between her and Fitzwilly, but when she finds out about his nefarious schemes, she naturally assumes it’s all for his own benefit. Later she finds out the truth, but the house goes on one final grand scheme to rip off Gimbels department store on Christmas Eve.
The final caper is wonderfully executed, and in the finest caper-film style things don’t go to plan and the team must improvise. The whole thing blows up, and it looks like everyone is destined for prison, when it is revealed that Miss Vickie’s book has been picked up for a movie, and she’ll be getting a cool half-million dollars for her efforts, which will be enough to keep the household afloat without larceny.
Dick Van Dyke’s effortless charm and impeccable comic timing supports the whole movie, but the supporting cast of character actors is a treat as well.
Honorable mentions from this year:
- You Only Live Twice
- The Dirty Dozen
- Mad Monster Party?
- The Vengeance of Fu Manchu
- Quatermass and the Pit