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Fitzwilly (1967) is a caper comedy with a definite 'sixties style.' Dick Van Dyke stars as Claude Fitzwilliam, the butler to Miss Victoria Woodworth (Dame Edith Evans of Tom Jones (1963) fame), a dowager unaware that her wealth has dwindled. Van Dyke leads the household staff in Robin-Hood style larceny, preserving her lifestyle and philanthropy. All's well until a new secretary, Juliet, (Barbara Feldon of television's Get Smart in her debut film role) catches on. Her romance with Fitzwilly and an energetic Christmas Eve raid on Gimbel's department store lead to a frenzied finale. Feldon is not the only newcomer in Fitzwilly; Sam Waterston (The Killing Fields, 1984) makes his first feature film appearance as the chauffeur.
Van Dyke is beloved by film, television and stage audiences for his affable comedy routines. He won a Tony Award for his work in Bye Bye Birdie (1963), starred six seasons as Rob Petrie in The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66), and has appeared in dozens of motion pictures including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and the dual roles of Bert the Chimney Sweep and Mr. Dawes, senior, in Mary Poppins (1964). As for Fitzwilly, Variety praised Van Dyke's performance as "charming as usual."
Released on December 20, 1967, Fitzwilly is based on the novel, A Garden of Cucumbers by Poyntz Tyler. The lyrics to the theme song "Make Me Rainbows" were written by the prolific songwriting team of Alan and Marilyn Bergman ("The Way We Were"). "Make Me Rainbows" was later performed at the 1979 Montreux Jazz Festival by Ella Fitzgerald and the Count Basie Orchestra.
Director: Delbert Mann
Producer: Walter Mirisch
Screenplay: Isobel Lennart, based on the novel by Poyntz Tyler
Cinematography: Joseph Biroc
Editor: Ralph E. Winters
Art Direction: Robert F. Boyle
Music: John Williams
Cast: Dick Van Dyke (Claude Fitzwilliam), Barbara Feldon (Juliet), John McGiver (Albert), Edith Evans (Miss Victoria Woodworth), Harry Townes (Mr. Nowell).
by Jessica Handler