Caprice (Frank Tashlin / U.S., 1967):

After a pre-credits sequence anticipating A Dandy in Aspic, The Spy Who Loved Me and others, Frank Tashlin introduces Doris Day in a trim spoof of Marnie (yellow handbag and all) and declares the industrial-espionage intrigue a matter of underarm deodorant. Godard raised the bar on spy satires with Alphaville, so Tashlin's allusive excoriation operates accordingly, with a sage jest underscoring the genre's alienation -- perennially frigid Day adrift in the '60s of double-crosses and swinging beds, "the spy who came in from the cold cream." Day's assignment is to snatch the formula for a water-repellant shampoo, Richard Harris is the Bondian smoothie on her trail, Ray Walston as the baleful chemist adds a touch of Elmer Fudd; the ample view of studio apparatus during the tour of the mod fashion set is taken from Fellini (only fair, since Fellini took Anita Ekberg from Tashlin), the heroine finds herself watching Caprice in a theater ("starring Doris Day and Richard Harris") while being fondled by a shaggy Michael J. Pollard. The cartoonist-auteur in rare form: Irene Tsu in a bikini with an enormous dog by her side as a polka dot-dressed Day dangles from a ledge is Tashlin at his freest, while his aversion to dehumanizing gadgetry is brilliantly illustrated as the amplified crunch of potato chips overthrows modern technology. Still, this is first and foremost a moral document in the face of faddish decadence, with the direct link between cosmetics corporations and narcotics forged as subversively as the bond of jukeboxes and slot machines in The Girl Can't Help It. The filmmaker's eye is on the jaundiced contortions of live-action 'toons, yet his ethical concerns remain unerringly in "the human frailty that keeps the wheels of commerce humming." With Jack Kruschen, Edward Mulhare, and Lilia Skala.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home