The fantastically beautiful titles (art deco? ormolu influenced?) that accompany Tom Jones’s singing are by Richard Williams, whose animation work includes “The Return of the Pink Panther”, “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”, “The Thief and the Cobbler”, and “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”, and whose title work includes this film, plus “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, the 1967 version of “Casino Royale”, and “Prudence and the Pill”.
The title cards include these three: “And Introducing Woody Allen”, “Original Screenplay by Woody Allen”, and “Directed by Clive Donner”.
This is farce, pure and simple. Well, not so pure – it’s a sex farce, frenetic and funny, set in Paris, with lots of talk about sex, mostly between a psychiatrist and his patients, and some sex (off-screen). There are other types of comedy as well; I especially loved the sequence toward the end, where the police arrive at the Chateau Chantelle (a just-out-of-town hotel for lovers) and form a human barrier a short distance from the front door, which is then stormed by the cast, who are determined to leave without getting caught with their amours. The beginning, however, is also funny: Peter Sellers plays Dr. Fassbender, an adulterous psychiatrist. His wife (Edra Gale) knows something is happening and she accosts him: “Is she prettier than me?” His reply? “Is she prettier than you? I’m prettier than you!” The next patient arrives: Michael James (Peter O’Toole). Exactly how old is this movie? Peter O’Toole looks very young – good-looking, actually. An unlined face, a full head of light-brown hair; he’s prettier than me! He tells the doctor about his earliest sexual experience, with his English teacher. “Michael, this can never work. I’m 34 and you’re 12.” The outcome? “She lost her license, and I failed English.” Outrageous then, outrageous now.
The cast is large. Romy Schneider plays Carole, sought after by both Michael and Victor (Woody Allen); Capucine plays Renee Lefebvre, who declares her nymphomania “runs in my family, and that includes my father and my two brothers.”; Paula Prentiss is Liz: “When it comes to liquor, I’m a health nut. I drink a lot of gin and wheat germ, a great deal of vodka and gluten.” Wait! Does this mean that gluten was a health food in the old days?!? And finally, “Guest Star” Ursula Andress plays Rita, who parachutes into Michael’s two-seater as he is on his way to Chateau Chantelle and the French-bedroom-farcical (and about 30 minutes long) finale This is where the freneticism really clicks into high. A very funny and still pretty darned racy movie!
More: The 1967 version of “Casino Royale” is the one with Peter Sellers, David Niven, and Woody Allen. All three play Bond and there are three other Bonds as well (all are women – Joanna Pettet as Mata Bond, and Ursula Andress and Daliah Lavi as 007 Bond).
On imdb.com it says that the title of Richard Williams’s animated movie is
“The Princess and the Cobbler – (Original tile: The Thief and the Cobbler)”.
Amazon.com lists both titles in their catalogue, but the illustrations for both show a cover label that says “The Thief and the Cobbler”. What gives?