Top critical review
Robbing from the rich to give to the formerly rich
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 18, 2012
Fitzwilly is a sprightly 1967 comedy that sees Dick Van Dyke's butler and the assorted household staff running a neat line in grand larceny to keep Edith Evans in the style she is accustomed to and ignorant of the real impoverished state of her finances after years of giving away money she doesn't have to good causes. It's not exactly Robin Hood, what with its robbing from the rich to give to the former rich, but since she's giving to the poor and it's all so good natured that's not really a problem. Naturally a fly turns up in the ointment when Evans hires Barbara Feldon as her new secretary for the dictionary for people who can't spell that she's writing: she just can't figure out why someone as smart as Van Dyke would want to be a butler...
It's more of a pleasant little movie than a laugh out loud comedy, the scams not always entirely convincing and the final heist at Gimbels on Christmas Eve having to be taken with the same pinch of salt as the film's rather flexible morality. Mary Poppins fans will be pleased/horrified (delete as applicable) to note that Van Dyke's cockaknee aksunt makes a return appearance in one scene, with the master linguist adding a bad French one to his repertoire along the way while Barbara Feldon sports a wardrobe, hairstyle and glasses that must have been the inspiration for Velma in Scooby Doo a couple of years later. There are plenty of familiar faces in the supporting cast, from John McGiver and a young Sam Waterston among the staff, John Fiedler and Norman Fell among the marks and Cecil Kellaway and an unbilled Laurence Naismith in throwaway roles that don't make even the slightest demand on their talents but doubtless helped them live in the style they were accustomed to. There's also a jaunty score from John Williams in the days when he was still Johnny Williams to move things nimbly along.
MGM's NTSC manufactured on demand DVD-R offers an inconsistent but mostly more than acceptable 2.35:1 widescreen transfer but not extras - there's not even a menu, with the film simply playing on a loop.