Once Upon a Crime

A comedy of diminution. The screenplay’s rather remote perspectives are expressed as a corollary to the action by Giuseppe Rotunno’s exteriors (Rome, Monte Carlo) by night and by day, not to mention his gemlike interiors. These great cityscapes are precisely keyed to a Roman fountain, a sculpture by George Segal (both close-ups), and a Calder stabile in the middle distance. Fellini, Stroheim and Hitchcock are grazed upon fleetingly.

A dachshund named Napoleon is sought by its owner, Mrs. Van Dougen. Various American misadventurers become more or less involved, as well as the gigolo Baron de la Pena, but Mrs. Van Dougen is found to be dead—murdered, in fact.

Money is won and lost in the casino, wives are trifled with, and the dachshund inherits a fortune.