What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) Review

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I’ll have my mustache eat your beard.

What’s up, Tiger Lily? (1966): 7 out of 10: Long before Airplane or Mystery Science Theater 3000 or even my mix-up of an uncut bootleg of Chōjin Densetsu Urotsukidōji and Led Zeppelin II (Blows Pink Floyd and the Wizard of OZ out of the water.) There was What’s Up Tiger Lily.

A very young Woody Allen acquired the rights of a Japanese James Bond knockoff called Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Kagi no Kagi (Literal English title International Secret Police: Key of Keys) and dubbed in his original dialogue.

The film starts with some non-dubbed footage involving bondage, a shootout, and a circular saw. Then Woody appears with an interviewer about what he has done with the film. The film then restarts Woody’s dubbing in place and except for two brief interruptions by Woody (both hilarious) It is the Japanese import with a new script and story.

The dub itself is quite funny and well done. One can see the roots of some of Woody Allen’s comic themes in this work. The overall story is that of secret agents in pursuit of the world’s greatest egg salad recipe. It works surprisingly well, being just silly enough to be a joke. The voice work during this scheme is applicable and fits the on-screen characters well.

What’s Up Tiger Lily benefits from the excellent source material. Longtime fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 know that even the best riffing can suffer from uninspiring source material. (Red Zone Cuba, for example). What’s Up Tiger Lily’s source material is colorful, action-packed, and has a lovely cast. I would love to see the source material.

On the downside, since the film is dubbed, when the movie has no dialogue, the experience can drag. Unlike an Airplane or a Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffing session, What’s Up Tiger Lily isn’t a jokes a minute affair. Even more detrimental, the Lovin Spoonful shows up periodically to present an unrelated music video. This both dates the effort horribly and kills the flow of the humor.

What’s Up Tiger Lily is a must-see for fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and of Woody Allen’s early comedy. (And fans of the Lovin Spoonful I guess).

One should pay respect to one’s elders, and it is an enjoyable time

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[…] all the participants speaking in Italian creating an almost Woody Allen feel to the dub (It gives What’s up Tiger Lily a run for its money complete with ragtime music cementing the silliness of what should be serious […]