What's Up, Tiger Lily?

What's Up, Tiger Lily?

4.5 4
Director: Woody Allen, Tatsuya Mihashi, Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi

Cast: Woody Allen, Tatsuya Mihashi, Mie Hama, Akiko Wakabayashi


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Any DVD menu that starts up with the Lovin' Spoonful's "Pow!" running in an audio loop automatically gets bonus points. That little humorous detail characterizes the spirit behind this entire release of What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), which marked Woody Allen's debut as a "director" of feature films. He was, in effect, the author of what we're seeing on the


Any DVD menu that starts up with the Lovin' Spoonful's "Pow!" running in an audio loop automatically gets bonus points. That little humorous detail characterizes the spirit behind this entire release of What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), which marked Woody Allen's debut as a "director" of feature films. He was, in effect, the author of what we're seeing on the screen here, even if he didn't shoot the original movie material with which he was working. Allen took a violent Japanese rip-off of the James Bond movies and dubbed in an English language dialogue using his own voice and a cast of actors. In addition to carrying an absurd story line, the film occasionally functioned as a veiled comedic commentary on what we're seeing onscreen; in the most obvious moment, a dancer's bare breasts are covered by superimposed red dots, which are labeled "Foreign Version" with an arrow running from the label to the dots. The result was something that anticipated Mystery Science Theater 3000 by some two decades. It's also excruciatingly funny on its own terms, as Japanese superagent Phil Moskowitz takes on criminal mastermind Shepard Wong for possession of a special egg salad formula, ably supported by the Lovin' Spoonful (who are actually seen in the movie). What makes this disc a real treat is that it has been mastered in a letterboxed format, with the 2.35:1 aspect ratio completely capturing the original movie's anamorphic image. This was probably one of the last movies that one thought necessary to be seen in widescreen, but it does add to the fun. That goes double for the Lovin' Spoonful's scenes -- they're spread across the entire screen for their performance clip of "Fishin' Blues." The owners of the movie have given it a splendid transfer, capturing the flesh tones and other details about on the same level as the current crop of James Bond movie DVDs, and they've provided some handy bonus features, as well. The most important is a choice between the original theatrical audio track -- which is a little more over-the-top in its ribald humor and sheer outrageousness -- and the track intended for television broadcast (according to the standards of 1966); thus, a gag about a vibrator turns into a line about a rented car, and the other tones down the jokes. There's also a comparison function that allows one to select from shots in which the dialogue between the two tracks is different and then play them back-to-back. It would have been nice if the makers of the American DVD had seen fit to emulate one interesting feature of the Region 2 DVD available in England, which contains a series of images and some history concerning the participants in the original Japanese film, two of whom ended up in the Bond movie You Only Live Twice (1967). In comparing the two discs in other respects, however, the American version from Image Entertainment has deeper, richer color and a sharper picture. It comes with 19 chapters, which also labels the Lovin' Spoonful performance clips. The main menu leads to a multi-layered selection of bonus features that is fairly easy to maneuver. The latter includes a convenient Woody Allen filmography that runs from 2003 backward to his mid-'50s television credits; it's reasonably thorough, although could have been spread across a few more frames.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A single, sophisticated postmodern joke housing a whole lot of dumb, but often very funny gags, What's Up Tiger Lily marks Woody Allen's unlikely, but auspicious debut as a filmmaker. Redubbing a Japanese, James Bond rip-off -- and from the looks of things, not a particularly good one -- Allen fashions jokes around notions of genre, cultural assumptions, and less lofty subjects. The result is a surprisingly consistent film as funny in its own way as any of Allen's early comedies, although audiences weaned on the rapid-fire pace of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (its spawn in many respects), may find it slower than they prefer.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Mono]

Special Features

Enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Woody Allen Himself / Dub Voice / Projectionist
Tatsuya Mihashi Phil Moskowitz
Mie Hama Terri Yaki
Akiko Wakabayashi Suki Yaki
Tadao Nakamaru Shepherd Wong
Susumu Kurobe Wing Fat
Julie Bennett Actor
Frank Buxton Actor
Louise Lasser Voice Only
China Lee Herself
Kumi Mizuno Actor
Lovin' Spoonful Themselves
Eisei Amamoto Bartender with Peter Lorre accent

Technical Credits
Woody Allen Director,Associate Producer,Screenwriter
Julie Bennett Screenwriter
Frank Buxton Screenwriter
Louise Lasser Screenwriter
Jack Lewis Score Composer
Lovin' Spoonful Score Composer
Mickey Rose Screenwriter
Henry G. Saperstein Executive Producer
Bryan Wilson Screenwriter

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. The Definitive Spy Picture [3:27]
2. Main Title [2:18]
3. A Word From the Author [1:56]
4. Foreign Version Striptease [1:10]
5. The Lovin' Spoonful [1:52]
6. Phil Moskowitz, Loveable Rogue [3:57]
7. Beware... of the Man... With [7:08]
8. Get the Recipe, Ass! [3:28]
9. Shepard Wong's Gambling Ship [8:21]
10. It's Not Wong - It's Fat! [3:15]
11. Have Another Lovin' Spoonful [3:22]
12. Secret Agent Suki Yaki [3:29]
13. A Brief Rundown? [3:01]
14. Decoding the Recipe [14:04]
15. Masters of Disguise [7:22]
16. A Hair-Raising Scene [3:00]
17. Last Man Standing [4:20]
18. The Test [1:43]
19. Air Moskowitz [2:26]

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What's Up, Tiger Lily? 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An absolute gem of a comedy. Anyone who enjoys a good comedy will enjoy this masterfully re-dubbed work of art though the ending is a little off the wall. The finest Woody Alan film I've ever seen (probably because Woody isn't in it!)
Andrew_T More than 1 year ago
Woody Allen can be one of those contentious figures whose story has become larger than his works, an entertainer or an artist whatever you call him, his audience stands divided. What most people can agree on when they scrutinize his work is that he is funny(we won't try to get a consensus on his "sex icon" label.) Before 'What's up, Tiger Lily', Allen had already had success as a writer and had been in the film "What's New Pussycat" with Peter Sellers, and 'What's Up' became Allen's first directorial effort, which means he replaced the audio of a Japanese spy film with his own and recut the film. The movie has a lot of classic Woody-esque lines and is very similar to the type of comedy that originally made him famous. It may be worth it to some viewers just to see Allen at the beginning of his long and diverse career. For others it is a hilarious albeit oft-overlooked gem in the Allen oeuvre. Watch this movie with any friends that have a quirky sense of humor though due to some more risque parts of the movie keep the young kids away. You can probably say that about most Woody Allen movies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago