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When a deported gangster dies in Italy, the U.S. treasury dept. is very interested in the $1,000,000.00 Madigan owed the government, but managed to take to Italy with him. They send agent Jason Phister over to Italy to nose out the million. His criteria for the job is that no one would ever guess he's an agent of the United States government. Written by
April M. Cheek <Aravis2713@aol.com>
After a few years in light roles in film and TV, Dustin Hoffman scored stardom in 1967 with "The Graduate." So, why would he be cast the next year in a "spaghetti" comedy? I don't know the machinations of Hollywood, but I'd like to posit a wild guess: He or someone else thought he might score again in a comedy. In this case, a sort of Italian-American "Pink Panther." When you finish laughing, consider the similarities in this film with the 1963 smash hit, "The Pink Panther."
Hoffman's character is similar to Peter Sellers' Jacques Clouseau. Both were government detectives of sorts. Both were bungling characters who fell, tripped or ran into objects and people. Both were disliked by their superiors and cohorts, who considered them incompetent. Inspector Clouseau incessantly corrected people who called him "inspector Clouseau," stating that he was "CHIEF inspector Clouseau." Hoffman's Jason Fister is a U.S. Treasury agent (auditor), whom people keep referring to as "Mr. FAWster." He continually corrects people: "It's FISTer F, I, S, T, E, R." But amidst their bumbling and bungling, both had some keen insights about their work and the case they were on.
So, maybe it's not so implausible after all the intentional copying of "The Pink Panther," with obvious redesigning for the later movie? Well, whether or not it was meant to be a copy, "Madigan's Millions" didn't succeed. Hoffman is not Peter Sellers. He doesn't have a naturally funny recovery from his bungling episodes. Hoffman appeared to be having fun at times in the film, but the script, acting, direction and whole thing just seemed too hackneyed. At times, I thought the director and producer must have known and purposely chopped up some scenes.
I gave this four stars only because it is an interesting look at a relatively new actor for the time; and for a cast of other interesting actors. Even with major rewriting and better direction, I'm not sure this movie would work. Surely, it wouldn't establish Hoffman as a comedy actor capable of buffoonery. I think he can do humor, but it's the more serious type clever, witty, and wry, as in "Rain Man."
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