by Franz Antel
In As of tomorrow, sometimes clumsy direction and often predictable script twists make us feel nostalgic not only for Mario Monicelli’s famous Big Deal on Madonna Street, but also for the comedies directed by Franz Antel himself in Austria in the 1940s and 1950s.
Mario Monicelli’s masterpiece Big Deal on Madonna Street (made in 1958) is considered one of the most important films made in Italy since the end of Neorealism. It is therefore not surprising that several sequels and remakes of this feature film have been made (both in Italy and in the United States). If we think, however, of the comedy As of tomorrow (alternative title: Ab morgen sind wir reich und ehrlich), directed by Franz Antel (here credited as François Legrand) in 1976 and the result of a cooperation between Italy and Austria, we can see that this title was only remotely inspired by Monicelli’s film, but in fact has nothing to do with the aforementioned feature film.
It all begins, then, in Rome. Young Nino (played by Angelo Infanti) works as a mechanic, but dreams of becoming a stuntman. One day he meets at work a self-styled baron (Vittorio Caprioli), who works in the film industry, and asks him for a job. The two are hired in a production inspired by the memoirs of a notorious gangster living in a small village in Abruzzo. Following a series of misunderstandings and vicissitudes, the two find themselves actually robbing a bank, convinced that they are on a film set.
As of tomorrow, therefore, relies on a series of gags and misunderstandings that follow one another at a frenetic pace and are more inspired by the style of the many Italian comedies of the 1970s than by the real Commedia all’Italiana. Car chases, fake ambulances, actors dressed as policemen and real policemen trying to catch other actors, an esteemed senator (played by the great Curd Jürgens) who absolutely must retrieve a briefcase with recorded tapes so as not to risk that certain information about him could ruin his career.
One certainly has fun with this bizarre comedy by Franz Antel. Yet sometimes clumsy direction and often predictable script twists make us feel nostalgic not only for Monicelli’s feature film, but also for the comedies directed by Antel himself in Austria in the 1940s and 1950s. Here, the director seemed less at ease handling chases, fights and shootings. Similarly, a sometimes too sharp editing almost gives the impression of a ‘truncated’ feature film, in which not even the final shot dedicated to Jürgens himself, which is supposed to be a homage to him (‘with that face he will surely be successful in film’), manages to ‘do him justice’ and to be the crowning glory of an imperfect work, which does, however, occasionally make the viewer laugh thanks to numerous slapstick gags.
As of tomorrow, therefore, remains a highly imperfect film, in which not even metacinema manages to ‘save the day’. The days when two clumsy bellhops carried a heavy suitcase with difficulty, making the audience laugh (in Hallo Dienstmann, 1952) seem light years away.
Original title: I soliti Ignoti colpiscono ancora – E una Banca rapinammo per fatal Combinazion
Directed by: Franz Antel
Country/year: Austria, Germany, Italy / 1976
Running time: 82’
Cast: Carroll Baker, Curd Jürgens, Arthur Kennedy, Vittorio Caprioli, Angelo Infanti, Silvia Dionisio, Christine Kaufmann, Elisabeth Fallenberg, Werner Pochath, Gabriele Tinti, Maurice Kaufmann
Screenplay: Willy Pribil, Sauro Scavolini
Cinematography: Guglielmo Mancori
Produced by: Cinema 77, Jadran Film, Neue Delta Filmproduktion, Rewind Film, San Nicola Produzione Cinematografica, TV13 Filmproduktion