Thursday, May 25, 2017

Once Upon a Crime

Once Upon a Crime; crime comedy, USA, 1992; D: Eugene Levy, S: Richard Lewis, Sean Young, James Belushi, Cybill Shepherd, John Candy, Ornella Muti, Giancarlo Giannini, George Hamilton, Elsa Martinelli

Rome. Phoebe is broke, but teams up with unemployed actor Julian when they find a lost dog and want to bring it to Madam Van Dougan who offers a 5,000 $ reward for his return. When they arrive at her mansion, they find her dead and are subsequently arrested by the police for murder. A couple, Neil and Marilyn, get broke while gambling in Monte Carlo, Monaco, while someone frames them with a suitcase containing Van Dougan's body parts. They are also arrested. Augie Morosco, another gambler, is also suspected of the murder and arrested, also finding out that his wife, Elena, had an affair with playboy Alfonso, who is also a suspect. The Inspector questions them all, until it is found out that the murder was perpetrated by the maid and her husband, the butler. The other suspects are released while Alfonso runs away with the dog that inherited Van Dougan's fortune.

It was probably nostalgia that swayed legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis to remake his own Italian 'whodunit' comedy "Crimen" by M. Camerini, yet the final result pleased almost nobody: it starts off nicely, yet quickly depletes itself with too much empty walk and too many subplots and side characters that drown and overburden the initial simple story. Many great comedians are here, from John Candy up to James Belushi, yet the thin screenplay has little to nothing for them to work with, whereas while it was initially charming to watch the characters' confused or panicked faces, these grimaces can only go so far. It seems the screenplay was so meagre that each comedian recieved only one good joke each (Belushi with the dialogue: "Are you finished?" - "Are you Swedish?"; Richard Lewis impersonating an Italian accent while trying to report the murder to the police on the phone, so he identifies himself as "Rocky Balboa"; Candy while sliding and falling down the roof) whereas for the rest of the film they have nothing left anymore, leaving their potentials underused and unexploited. A light and uneventful crime farce that simply lacks highlights — there is little here to write about — yet it is notable for surprisingly demonstrating that Sean Young has a very charming gift as a comedian in her role as the clumsy Phoebe.


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