CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • PG
  • Adventure, Comedy
  • 1966
  • 76 mins

What's Up, Tiger Lily?

What's Up, Tiger Lily?

Synopsis

Woody Allen re-dubs an existing Japanese spy movie, transforming it from an action adventure into a comical hunt for a prized egg salad recipe

About

By 1966 Woody Allen was a sublime if reluctant stand-up comic with a great reputation following TV scripts for Sid Caeser and 'Candid Camera', plus 1965's cinema hit What's New, Pussycat?. So, when you've shelled out for a ropey, Japanese Bond knock-off and feel that it might just make money with an ironic new soundtrack, who you gonna call?

Usually credited as Allen's directorial debut What's Up, Tiger Lily? feels more like a running gag from a sketch show anthology which has somehow wound up with a theatrical release. The concept may be clever but it wears thin very quickly and the material frequently just isn't that funny.

As it is, the original Japanese film, Key Of Keys looks like it wasn't taking itself terribly seriously in the first place. Allen's dialogue seems keen to provoke absurd 'Goon Show'-style laughs rather than straight spy spoofing, which by this stage was being done quite proficiently by 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' Our Man Flint and the Bond franchise itself.

Tiger Lily's vague plot has agent Phil Moscowitz (Mihashi) summoned by the High Macha of Rashpur ("a nonexistent but real-sounding country") to recover a recipe for egg salad in order for Rashpur to gain official existence "somewhere between Spain and Greece - it's really much warmer there". The recipe is also coveted by head villain Shepard Wong (Nakamaru), though of course this is all an excuse for chases, punch-ups and a parade of femme fatales.

Allen himself appears at the film's opening to explain what we're about to see. It's possible this was necessary back in 1966 but now it's like having a joke's premise and punch-line delivered up-front, removing any of the surprise required to make the bloody thing actually funny.

Things get desperate in the second half with footage run back and forth for cheap laughs and silhouetted hands trying to remove a hair stuck in the projector. This second gag in particular might have been fine for a few seconds but goes on for a couple of minutes.

Some of the actual voice artists do a great job of at least sounding funny but tellingly the biggest - and quite unintentional - laugh is probably the titles featuring a tiny cartoon Allen in the cleavage of a gorgeous young Asian girl. It's a wonder Mia Farrow didn't bring that one out in court.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Woody Allen, Tadao Nakamaru, John Sebastian, Tatsuya Mihashi, Julie Bennett, Susumu Kurobe, Bryan Wilson, Len Maxwell, Frank Buxton, Akiko Wakabayashi, Louise Lasser, Mie Hama, Mickey Rose
  • Director: Woody Allen, Senkichi Tanguchi
  • Screen Writer: Louise Lasser, Kazuo Yamada, Julie Bennett, Len Maxwell, Woody Allen, Mickey Rose, Frank Buxton, Bryan Wilson
  • Producer: Woody Allen
  • Photographer: Kazuo Yamada
  • Composer: The Lovin' Spoonful

In a nutshell

A curio for major Allen fans. In an ideal world it would probably work best as an DVD extra on Take The Money And Run.

by Jim Hall

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Stone

    Stone

    Robert De Niro, Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich star in this drama thriller about a convicted arsonist trying to manipulate a parole officer with the help of his beautiful wife

  • Film4 Pusher

    Pusher

    Nicolas Winding Refn's Danish crime thriller is given a British makeover starring Richard Coyle and Agyness Deyn

  • Film4 Men In Black 3

    Men In Black 3 on Film4

    When Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) is killed in the past by a time-travelling villain, Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to 1969 to save him, and teams up with a younger version of Agent K (Josh Brolin) on Film4

  • Film4 Serenity

    Science-Fiction Season on Film4

    The future starts here! Film4's 2015 season of science fiction features classics of the genre, old and new

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share