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  • Coming at the end of a prosperous string of all-star mystery films, THE HONEY POT suffered more from a lame title and timing than anything on screen when first released (an even worse title, "Up Pops Murder" didn't help when the film was first released to television).

    The typically superb script and direction from Joseph L. Mankiewicz, from a play by mystery writer Frederick Knott, inspired in turn by Ben Johnson's classic play, VOLPONE, THE HONEY POT could not have had a better cast with Rex Harrison (at the top of his game) as the supposedly super-wealthy Cecil Fox mentally tilting with his secretary, Cliff Robertson, and a nosy nurse/love interest for Robertson, a very young Maggie Smith (younger viewers may be interested to see this very different performance from HARRY POTTER's Professor McGonagall - as well as her amazing Desdemona opposite Olivier's OTHELLO) and a trio of ex-loves, Edie Adams, Cappucine and Susan Hayward all in Fox's beautiful Venetian palatzo (the exterior shots are as gorgeous and the interiors).

    A death happens (accident? perhaps murder?) and a Venetian police inspector, Adolfo Celi, enters the picture (lovely side note as his family at home is enraptured with PERRY MASON on American TV more than his real-life work) and the film starts to leave Ben Johnson's Volpone behind and delve into more complex games.

    To be frank, this film has long been among my favorites - I have been accused of teaching an entire university course on Mystery Writers just to develop an audience for it. Showing the film at the conclusion of the course, after considering the progression of great mystery writing from Poe to Conan Doyle to Christie, Hammett and beyond, this marvelous under-appreciated work from Knott & Mankiewicz never fails to grab them. It's well worth a look for anyone interested in good literate fun, great performances and writing that don't depend on splatter gore, special effects or CGI.

    While the ongoing box-office clout of stars Harrison and Hayward got the film a limited VHS release, it's hard to a copy today - but well worth the search.

    Wonderful film...if only it had a better title.
  • theowinthrop26 February 2005
    This film is pretty good, but it was a flop in 1967 despite having some good performances by Rex Harrison, Clift Robertson, Susan Hayward, Capucine, Edie Adams, and Maggie Smith. The script and direction of Joseph Mankiewicz were perfect. But it flopped, possibly because the times did not call for a literate murder mystery film.

    It's lineage is impeccable since it begins with Ben Jonson's classic Jacobean comedy "Volpone". But actually it is not "Volpone". The film is based on Thomas Sterling's "The Evil of the Day". The story has been changed in one way. Sterling's novel brings together three would-be heirs too, but two are men, and one is Fox's wife (as in the movie - Susan Hayward's role). But the same plot switches go on in the novel as in this film.

    I enjoyed the movie, in particular one moment that was rare to see in any film of that period. Harrison has invited his three would-be heirs to come to dinner. Hayward (accompanied by her secretary Smith) comes in first. While they are talking to Harrison and Robertson, both Adams and Capucine show up at the doorway. Neither is willing to let the other go in first. They end up pushing into each other through the door frame into the dining room, thoroughly uncomfortable - but at least neither was forced to wait for the other to make the first move.
  • In Venice, the millionaire benefactor Cecil Fox (Rex Harrison) watches the Seventeenth Century play Volpone and plots a practical joke to his three former greedy mistresses. He hires the unemployed actor William McFly (Cliff Robertson) to act as his butler and stage manager and sends letters telling that he is terminal to the decadent Hollywood star Merle McGill (Edie Adams); to the broken Princess Dominique (Capucine); and to the sick Lone Star Crockett (Susan Hayward), who was married with him and arrives in his palace bringing the nurse Sarah Watkins (Maggie Smith) as her companion. The prime intention of Rex is to see the reaction of the women after the reading of his will declaring McFly as the only heir of his fortune and then laugh up them. However, when Mrs. Sheridan is found dead in her room, the snoop Sarah decides to investigate and realizes that the prank is indeed an intricate scheme to get the fortune of Rex.

    "The Money Pot" is a delightfully witty film of the great director Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The sophisticated and theatrical screenplay has wonderful lines and many plot points that surprises many times and a mystery that recalls the novels of Agatha Christie. The direction and the performances are superb, highlighting Rex Harrison, Cliff Robertson, Maggie Smith and Adolfo Celi, the Venetian inspector that watches Perry Mason at home. My vote is nine.

    Title (Brazil): "Charada em Veneza" ("Charade in Venice")
  • Taking an inspiration from his favorite Jacobean play, Ben Jonson's Volpone, fabulously wealthy Rex Harrison hires an out of work actor Cliff Robertson to play an elaborate practical joke on three women who've been part of his life. Robertson's to play his confidential secretary and assistant and to send them letters inviting them to Venice where Harrison is pretending to be dying in his palazzo.

    To be sure these are three women to die for indeed. There is Princess Capucine with a title, but little else going for here as she becomes one of those permanent house guests on the Riviera. Then there's movie star Edie Adams originally from the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn whose best days as a film star are behind here and not enough money is coming in to keep up with her lifestyle spending. Finally there is the mysterious and earthy Susan Hayward. Imagine if you will Susan as Rachel Jackson, but with a malevolent twist and you've got her character. She's also a hypochondriac and travels with nurse/companion Maggie Smith.

    The joke's proceeding great until Hayward winds up dead and the police in the person of Inspector Adolfo Celi is brought in. Joseph Mankiewica's literate script glides ever so gently from comedy of manners to murder mystery. And not like everyone of them hasn't got reason to do in Hayward. Just see the film and you'll know what I mean.

    Sad that The Honey Pot failed to find an audience. Also sad that it was two years from the Stonewall Rebellion, Harrison's bisexuality was not more explicit. In regard to that read Hayward's comments on their lives together and the dialog exchanges between Harrison and Robertson.

    In fact The Honey Pot does turn out to be an elaborate joke, but you have to see who winds up winners and losers in this very intelligent and witty film.
  • peacham22 September 1999
    If you want to see the late ,great Sir Rex Harrison at his finest rent this film. Sir Rex give a tour-de-force portrayal and pulls out all his high comedic talents. the movie proves to the film-goer just how great Harrison must have been on stage. He is ably supported by the future Dame Maggie Smith in a well defined understated performance. Cliff Robertson & Edie Adams are also good in this sly update of Volpone.

    With "Honey Pot",Director Mankewicz shows that he was as skilled at small cast fare with brittle humor as he was at larger full scaled epics or shady drama.The combination of Harrison,Mank,Smith and Robertson made a fine film indeed.
  • "The Honey Pot" appears like a draft of "Sleuth", Mankiewicz's next and last film. Cruel manipulation and lies are its main themes. Like "Sleuth", "The Honey Pot" is all about a confrontation between a rich aging man and a younger one who has to fight for his place in the sun. Mankiewicz's is as brilliant as ever with a fantastic witty script and the cast is very good. Rex Harrison delivers one of his finest performances as the crooked but exquisit Cecil Fox. Maggie Smith, who is very young here, is also outstanding as the not so innocent nurse. Their two scenes together (especially the one in which she kisses him goodnight) are the best parts of the movie.
  • dglink15 June 2016
    Loosely based on "Volpone," a play by Ben Johnson, Joseph L. Mankiewicz's literate, yet complex film, "The Honey Pot," is an often overlooked gem from the 1960's. Ensconced in his lavish Venetian palazzo, Cecil Fox devises an elaborately staged game to play on three of his former paramours. Hiring a handsome stage manager named McFly, he writes a letter to each woman telling her that he is on his death bed and she could be heiress to his estate. Needless to say, each arrives in Venice with an expensive gift and a desire to rekindle the fire with Fox. Each woman brings a time piece, and the theme of passing time is woven throughout the film.

    The film was the second successful collaboration between Mankiewicz and Rex Harrison, the first producing Harrison's Oscar-nominated performance in "Cleopatra." Harrison is a sly delight as Fox, a devious, manipulative schemer, whose dreams of being a dancer send him flitting flamboyantly around his bed chamber; in keeping with the film's theme, he even cavorts to "The Dance of the Hours." Cliff Robertson is McFly, a man with a checkered past, who stages the deception with ambiguous motives of his own. The three objects of Fox's deceit are played by Susan Hayward, Capucine, and Edie Adams. Hayward's Mrs. Lone Star Crockett Sheridan is the most colorful, and her tough-talking Texan character is missed when she is off-screen. Capucine's Princess Dominque is properly cool and regal, and Adams's Merle McGill is crass and common. In a role that resembles her work in "The V.I.P's," Maggie Smith is the under-estimated brains among the group; as Sarah Watkins, nurse-companion to Mrs. Sheridan, Smith is described by Fox as "the bouncy one," and she is indeed.

    "The Honey Pot" may be too slow and wordy for those nursed on Marvel Comics super heroes, but patient viewers have much to relish. Mankiewicz won Oscars for his biting screenplays for "All About Eve" and "A Letter to Three Wives," and also won nominations for writing "Skippy," "No Way Out," and "The Barefoot Contessa." His sharp and witty dialog is deliciously delivered by Harrison and Hayward in particular, who have the best lines; however, the entire cast, which includes four Oscar winners, does well, and each has his or her moments. Gianni Di Venanzo's well rendered cinematography of Venice and of the rich interiors of Fox's palace is colorful, and John Addison's score enhances the proceedings. Boasting excellent technical credits, a sterling cast, and a script and direction by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, "The Honey Pot" offers solid entertainment for discerning viewers and a few twists and surprises to keep everyone attentive until the end.
  • Rrrberg13 July 2006
    Excellent Movie! Terrific Suspense! It kept me guessing and thrilled up to the last minute, something that is rare in movies made today (2006). Rex Harrison in his finest. His dancing was superb! Maggie Smith as Nurse (Moth brain) almost stole the show and Cliff Robertson was especially convincing as an actor and a lawyer. I adored Adolpho Celi who played the Inspector. He was so smooth and gentle almost to lead us to believe he was not very bright but to the contrary. I've always enjoyed Susan Hayward, she gave them movie some spark and gave it life and as Cecil commented after she was gone that things would be dull from now on. Yet it wasn't and the script kept the viewers moving right along. Was there a cameo by Jack Benny playing a street musician?
  • I must admit when I saw this movie I it felt that it was not complete. Sure enough the back story of this film is that United Artists -then an independent film company that was a haven for great independent film makers such as Stanley Kramer, Robert Wise, Billy Wilder, William Wyler made serious cuts to the finished film that reportedly upset both Joseph Mankiewicz and star Susan Hayward. I do not know if Susan's long absences from Production tending to her dying husband in the USA resulted in her role being cut or what. The cinematographer died during production too. Years later Joseph Mankiewicz restored all of his cuts and it is said to be a brilliant film. Mankiewicz films are noted for great dialogue, and this film is missing some of the usual quips made so famous in Mankiewicz films. However the DVD version is the UA version not the Mankiewicz version.

    Susan Hayward- always an exciting woman to watch on the screen has little to do, but makes every scene she is in worth watching, however Hawyard's character "Lone Star" ends up dead early in the movie. There is not even one "Hayward scene" where the usually fiery star would dominate a sequence. Capucine, Edie Adams, Maggie Smith and Cliff Robertson give fine support to Rex Harrison and Ms. Hayward. This movie has 4 Oscar winners Hayward, Harrison, Smith and Robertson.

    This is the last Susan Hayward movie that allowed Hayward to be considered a superstar, what would follow would be cameos in Valley Of The Dolls and The Revengers,, and two TV movies Heat of Anger and Say Goodbye Maggie Cole before dying of brain cancer at a relatively early age of 57. Years later Rex Harrison would be quoted as saying He and the rest of the Company respected Ms. Hayward who dealt with the loss of her hsuband and carried on so professionally in her role.
  • One wonders if the reviewer immediately preceding me saw the same film as did the rest of us. One look at previous reviews, however, and one gets the distinct impression that the reviewer either hasn't the ability to appreciate anything outside its time, or hasn't the intellect to understand that nonconformity and iconoclasm don't always signal independence and brilliance, but rather often signal conformity to boorish, would-be iconoclastic opinions, and dullness. (Just peruse a few of the reviews, and then tell me that I'm wrongly slinging hash.) This film is as witty and urbane as anything that issued from Hollywood during its era. (Note my lone qualification.) Harrison is nearly used to maximum effect, here. Robertson's never been a favourite, but he's good, here. The ladies' performances are all well done. It's also nice to see something from an era when big budgets yielded really solid pictures (if not always results).
  • The Honey Pot (1967)

    An odd film historically--it falls in the year of the New Hollywood breakouts like "The Graduate" and "Bonnie and Clyde" yet it is made in the style of those earlier 1960s slick and effete capers like "The Pink Panther." The movie can't be seen in quite contemporary terms, because it's just too slick and clever, and yet it doesn't have the panache and glorious success of the best of the earlier color films, glamour besides.

    Technically this is an American production, though it's thoroughly British in feel (and the production company also handled the embarrassing "Casino Royale" which is equally British at its core). The story is basically a romanticized version of Ben Jonson's "Volpone," a play from the same year (1606) as Shakespeare's MacBeth. There is a small part of "Volpone" performed in the movie (for the indulgence of the filthy rich scheming main character). This would seem a promising starting point.

    And the director (and co-screenwriter) is one of Hollywood's classic greats, Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Like many of the old guard still working in the late 1960s, there is a slight sense of displacement here, or even of weariness mixed with self-satisfaction. Maybe it shows that this is his last film. The theatrical style of acting is also teetering into the functional dialog and delivery of television--it depends not on atmosphere (t.v. had none back then) but on a development of ideas. In fact, it is something of a play expanded and made colorful for the wide screen. Its drama depends on a sequence of events rather than cinematic, visual elements.

    If you are looking for a Susan Hayward performance, there isn't much to watch for--it's quirky and brief. Rex Harrison as the lead is forceful and uncomplicated. And convincing enough. The many side characters are strong and will do, though there is a sad lack of momentum to it all. The combination never quite stumbles, combining a light wit and sophisticated air (and lacking the seeming selfish cruelty of Jonson's original). Even the camera-work, ever smooth and perfectly balanced, gives a sense of well made, if slightly too well lit (television again) movie-making.

    Yes, I am all hesitance here. It's so nice and smart all the time without great effect. It twists and twists and you have no way to really anticipate, merely respond by saying, oh, another twist. You don't give a hoot about the characters, or the murdered woman, or whether the inheritance is real or not, or much of anything. So all the back and forth, all the hiding of secrets and playing of parts, even the voice-over from the dead at the end, is slim entertainment.
  • JohnHowardReid18 October 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    An over-talkative comedy-drama-murder mystery, disappointingly directed in a rather bland style by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. In fact, the movie lacks the very essential wit and flair that everyone – from producer Charles K. Feldman on down – expected that Mankiewicz would certainly bring to this venture. Solid performances from just about everyone in the cast – particularly Rex Harrison, Susan Hayward, Maggie Smith, Edie Adams and Capucine – plus the movie's A- 1 technical credits certainly help, but the movie seems far too ponderous and slow-moving – mostly because Mankiewicz has unwisely chosen to add dialogue of his own invention to that of Frederick Knott's stage play, "Mr. Fox of Venice", which was itself based on a novel by Thomas Sterling based on a play by Ben Jonson. Thus, The Honey Pot is awash with dialogue. If this were not off-putting enough, Mankiewicz has chosen to direct the movie mostly in super-boring, TV-style close-ups.

    The above is my view of the 131 minutes version. At 150 minutes the movie would surely be unwatchable.
  • "The Honey Pot" was not successful when it was released. I assume much of this is because the film is VERY unusual. The first half is a clever comedy but midway through the film, it abruptly becomes a murder mystery. The end result is a film that seems like two different films chopped apart and glued together. For me, I wish it had stuck with the comedy throughout--it would have been a better film.

    The film is about a very rich man (Rex Harrison) who has decided to enact his own real-life version of the Ben Johnson play "Valpone". It's a play in which a man pretends to be dying and does this to fool his friends. Like "Valpone" (which literally means 'the fox'), Harrison's name is Fox. However, in this case, Fox has invited his three ex-wives to his home--telling them through his secretary (Cliff Robertson) that he's dying. However, instead of this complicated plan being seen through to the end, folks start dying. What gives?! The film has a nice cast. In addition to Harrison and Robertson, there are the wives (Capucine, Edie Adams and Susan Hayward--who is quite entertaining). Also, Adolfo Celi and Maggie Smith are along for support. However, despite the story being directed by the brilliant Joseph L. Mankiewicz, it just didn't work. It wasn't just that the film was two different films but the ending was VERY talky and had to explain everything to the audience--which was very awkward. Overall, the film is also a bit overlong. For me, despite some nice performances, it just didn't work.
  • Maggie Smith's astute performance as Susan Hayward's maid elevates this rather stiff and boring drawing-room comedy, a remake of the 1939 film "Volpone", in which Rex Harrison portrays a millionaire who fakes a fatal illness to test the reactions of his former girlfriends. Hayward plays one of the ex-flames who winds up dead for real. Rambling nonsense, with Harrison creepily mannered (though possibly on purpose). The story, whose origins lie in both the popular play "Mr. Fox of Venice" and the successful novel "The Evil of the Day", quickly tires one's patience. Reissued under the title "It Comes Up Murder", though audiences weren't fooled--the film flopped. *1/2 from ****
  • This film centers on an extremely wealthy man named "Cecil Sheridan Fox" (Rex Harrison) who is living in Venice and wants to play a joke on three attractive women: "Lone Star Sheridan" (Susan Hayward), "Princess Dominique" (Capucine) and "Merle McGill" (Edie Adams). So he sends them letters telling them he is dying and that he has a huge fortune to pass on to one of them--just to see how far each of them will go to prove their love for him. He enlists the aid of "William McFly" (Cliff Robertson) to assist him. But things don't exactly go according to plan. At any rate, rather than disclose any of the secrets that unfold I will just say that this film turns out to be both a comedy and a mystery. Now, while I thought both Cliff Robertson and Rex Harrison performed well enough, I must say that I especially liked Adolfo Celi as "Inspector Rizzi". I also didn't mind having such beautiful and talented actresses like the aforementioned Capucine, Susan Hayward and Edie Adams either. At any rate, this is an enjoyable comedy but be warned-there are a lot of twists and turns along the way.
  • As unlikable as ever, Rex Harrison stars in The Honey Pot as a wealthy, despicable cad who basically doesn't like women. Sound familiar? This time around, he recruits Cliff Robertson into his master plan: he's going to pretend he's dying to see which of the many women in his circle really care about him. The women: Susan Hayward, Capucine, Edie Adams, and Maggie Smith. They're each very different, from English spinster to penniless princess, and they all try to make their case about who should inherit his fortune when he dies.

    It's supposed to be a comedy akin to Unfaithfully Yours, but Rex Harrison ruins it for me, just as he did in the 1948 film. I preferred Dudley Moore's version of Unfaithfully Yours. Rex just isn't likable, and his ego oozes off the screen in every film I've seen him in. Why would these women waste their time with him-I don't care how much money they stand to inherit! There are a few 1960s sex jokes that Hollywood liked to throw around at the time after the demise of the Hays code, but it's hardly the best 60s sex romp out there.
  • From the opening scene, with Rex Harrison's lead character watching a private performance of Ben Jonson's "Volpone"in the elegant, neoclassical surrounds of Venice's La Fenice, to the final scene amid the acqua alta in the Piazza San Marco, this sly murder mystery is pretty much note perfect. The script is drily witty, delivered by principally Harrison, Cliff Robertson, with Maggie Smith demonstrating that she was a first-rate comic actress even four decades ago, all played in the matchless surrounds of Venice. Capucine as the Princess, and Adolfo Celi as the police inspector are excellent in their smaller, supporting roles.
  • writers_reign28 March 2011
    Warning: Spoilers
    Mank of course is almost always good value and if he never really equalled let alone eclipsed A Letter To Three Wives and All About Eve he certainly gave it the old college try and this late entry is streets ahead of the disappointing swanner There Was A Crooked Man. Rex Harrison actually contrives to appear vulpine in the quasi dance steps he affects at a couple of points in the action and it's interesting that no attempt is made to portray Venice in a seductive light, rather the sombre, muted tones add a distinctive flavour to the proceedings. The casting tends towards the bizarre and I can't think off hand of any one let alone any casting director who who automatically throw such diverse performers as Harrison, Hayward, Robertson, Smith, Capucine and Adams into the same project. Somehow one endures this and keeps watching Mank's literate screenplay unfold like a blossom struggling to overcome blight.
  • TanakaK15 April 2011
    I was quite surprised by my utter boredom with this film. I had read so many high opinions of it. The cast and general description would have suggested an enjoyable feature for me.

    But, alas, it stunk. I expected the film to be stagy, as it was adapted from a stage play. But there was just nothing in the silly story to like. Stories like this need to work up to a crescendo of confusion and gaffes. But this one just became a deeper and duller yak fest.

    There was also zero chemistry with the cast. I must, here, admit that I do not enjoy Rex Harrison in anything. His hammy, self-centric style always seems completely out of place on the screen. But that aside nobody clicked in this thing. They just talk at each other throughout this bewilderingly pointless plot.

    Clearly there are folks who enjoyed this film. More power to 'em. I am just not one of them.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is both a comedy and a mystery thriller. It has its assets, such as some very impressive work with regard to sets and props. The viewer gets Venice, yes, but he gets Venice as filtered through the mind of the protagonist, who, as it turns out, has a somewhat limited imagination and tends to think of the city in terms of tropes and cliches. (Crumbling palaces ! Theatres ! Rococo figurines ! Hidden doorways and secret passages !) There are also some nice performances to enjoy, especially by the three actresses who play the respective partners and lovers of our protagonist.

    Still, there is something which keeps the movie from soaring : it is enjoyable, but not outstanding. Perhaps this has something to do with the constant references to Ben Jonson's "Volpone". First of all, not everyone is going to get these references - in terms of fame, the play is not as universally known as, say, Shakespeare's "Hamlet" or "Romeo and Juliet". Secondly, it may not be such a good idea to put a complicated plot on top of another complicated plot.

    I was also annoyed by the various voice-overs explaining the thoughts and motivations of the characters. (This, strangely, included dead characters.) Last of all the ending felt facile and ill-considered. Let's suppose that the story really happened. Where would this leave us, in real life ? I don't know for sure, but I would guess with two young idiots about to get embroiled in hideously expensive and complicated litigation for the next thirty years or so. Remember, when there's talk of opulent inheritances, everyone will want to have his or her share : creditors, business partners, family members, old lovers, charities,... And let's not forget the taxman - or, in this case, the massed taxmen of at least two large countries...

    No, I don't see this thing ending well, one way or the other.