Today we will talk about the film Masquerade (original title The Honey Pot -1967) by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.The film was based on the play Mr. Fox of Venice by Frederick Knott, the novel The Evil of the Day by Thomas Sterling, and loosely on the 1606 play Volpone by Ben Jonson.
It stars an elegant Rex Harrison as the main protagonist, flanked by a splendid Susan Hayward, a very young Maggie Smith and the French model Capucine.
Rex Harrison plays Cecil Fox, an eccentric American billionaire who – pretending to be on his deathbed – decides to invite three former lovers to his Venetian palace: a hypochondriac billionaire, a French aristocrat and a fading Hollywood star.
The three women rush to his bedside attracted by the mirage of a conspicuous inheritance. The plot takes several major swings in the course, however, when one of the women ends up dead, ostensibly from an overdose of sleeping pills. But the story thickens when the police discover that Fox himself – actually poor and penniless – had orchestrated everything in order to get the billionaire’s fortune. But when the story seems to come to an end, an event changes completely the conclusion… we let you discover it by yourselves, or with one of ThinkVenice guides, if you are in Venice!
And once again, the splendid and scenic Venice is one of the protagonist of this story. Although part of the film takes place inside the palace, some emblematic places of Venice can be recognized.
At the beginning of the film we have a first glimpse of the lagoon city when Cecil Fox leaves the Teatro la Fenice at night: you can see him leaving the theater in a gondola from the entrance on the water.
The night walk of Maggie Smith and Cliff Robertson (Mr. Fox’s secretary) discloses the Scuola Grande di San Marco in Campo San Giovanni e Paolo and the homonymous church.
And how could one of the most famous cafes in the world be missing? Here we enter the Forian cafe, in Piazza San Marco, while the protagonists are sitting at the table, sipping a brandy with a background musical accompaniment. And after passing through the Procuratie Nuove, here they are aboard a gondola for a romantic ride through the Venetian canals.
The wonderful residence of the billionaire Fox is a palazzo located in another district: Cannaregio. This is the late Gothic palace built for the Soranzo family in the XV century, later owned – until 1920 – by the Flemish van Axel family.
It is inside this imposing palace that the rich heiress and Fox will die and their corpse will be taken away by boat.
The film ends with the most emblematic place in the city: a deserte San Marco Square, partly covered by a light mirror of water and surrounded by its most majestic buildings.
We are waiting for you in Venice to discover with us the places used as location for Masquerade…
See you soon, ciao!