Mister Too Little (1979)
Rossano again plays a variation of Phineas T. Prune in this children’s story. He plays the short-tempered “Zabo the Great” – who, with his dogs, perform for a circus. Mindy, an 11 year old girl whose parents perform an act with tigers, befriends Zabo’s star performer, Mister Too Little, a pretty little white poodle. Mister Too Little in turn has befriended Mindy’s parents’star performer, Mister Too Much, a 400-lb Bengal tiger. Zabo, convinced Mindy is spoiling his dog, forbids her from playing with him, but when Zabo tries the trick of having the poor little poodle leap from a 40-foot tower into a small swimming pool, Mindy interferes, fearing for his safety. Threatened with punishment by an enraged Zabo, Mister Too Little runs away. Later, a fire in the circus results in Mister Too Much escaping as well. Now it up to Mister Too Little to find food for his friend, while keeping them both hidden from two bumbling police officers armed with tranquilizer guns, and Zabo, who is after the $10,000 reward money and wants them both back … dead or alive. Fortunately, Zabo’s meanness is gradually overcome by Mindy’s determination to “love” him, despite his faults.
The movie is definitely marred by some amazingly wooden acting by the little girl and her mother, but Rossano’s “Zabo” is a delightful portrayal — this is the era of his “angry” characters: Prune, Frankenstein are two other examples, and Zabo is so believeable as a man who believes in punishing animals (and children too, no doubt) for making mistakes, that you spend the earlier minutes of the film quite ready to “boo” him off the screen. The the two bumbling police officers on the trail of the two animals played by two well known character actors are also very well done. The lesson for children in this film – that you should try to see the best in everyone, even the “Zabo”s of the world – comes across nicely.
For those animal lovers out there who are prepared to hate Rossano for this excellent portrayal of a man given to animal cruelty … fear not. He loved animals, and was, in fact, particularly fond of poodles – he had three of them!
Created by the Rossano Brazzi International Network