"I Hate Blondes," a mildly tedious Italian farce now at the K-B Janus, refers to a book title. The principal characters are a big-shot author named Donald and a timid ghost writer named Emilio, who has been responsible for all the best-selling thrillers that Donald grew too busy and rich to continue writing himself years earlier. At long last Emilio has worked up the nerve to try to end his exploitation, and the generally inane, hectic action is calculated to reach a satisfactory conclusion in the course of a posh literary party for Donald's unsuspecting publisher.
Emilio is played by Enrico Montesano, an unfamiliar, incessantly flustered little comic described as "the Italian version of Woody Allen" in one perplexing fragment of publicity for the movie. Donald is Jean Rochefort, a reassuringly familiar and expert farceur from "The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe" and "Femmes Fatales." Emilio insists it's quits but agrees to deliver his last manuscript and give the desperate Donald a few hints about the plot, lest he seem a bit dim in the company of the guest of honor. Meanwhile, a beautiful thief, Angelica, played by Corinne Clery, the first of Roger Moore's leading ladies in "Moonraker" (the one who shouldn't have been knocked off, in other words), complicates their arrangements by trying to purloin the precious baubles Donald has bought his mistress.
The premise isn't all that bad, and Rochefort is irresistibly funny trying to rationalize the corruption he's grown accustomed to: "Writing a book is only 5 percent of the effort, Emilio. The hard part comes after. . . . I can't renounce all this! I'd have to go back to writing! No!" As the characters scurry about lifting and replacing valuable objects, there are also situations that exert a silly slapstick appeal, like Emilio manhandling and munching the salads of startled partygoers while searching for a stolen necklace.
As a rule, however, the level of funning is more strenuous than cheerfully uninhibited. Director Giorgio Capitani seems to have a compulsion to belabor sight gags that aren't exactly brilliant in the first place -- for example, the tendency of Emilio's typewriter carriage to fly across the room. Far from top-notch, or even middle-notch, "I Hate Blondes" has precious little to recommend it, but the little there is is also pleasantly ridiculous.