Day 151: What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

51Q3SPJ3CELIt’s hard to believe Woody Allen was given another chance behind the camera (or anywhere near a camera, for that matter) after What’s Up, Tiger Lily?, his 1966 feature-length directorial debut.

“Death is my bread…danger is my butter,” Woody tells an interviewer at the movie’s outset. (The interviewer is asking Woody about his “definitive spy picture…with raping and looting and killing in it.”)

“Actors acting one story and saying another,” the interviewer says incredulously. Indeed.

That’s as funny as the movie gets. It’s all downhill from there.

According to its entry on Wikipedia:

Allen took a Japanese spy film, International Secret Police: Key of Keys, and overdubbed it with completely original dialogue that had nothing to do with the plot of the original film. By putting in new scenes and rearranging the order of existing scenes, he completely changed the tone of the film from a James Bond clone into a comedy about the search for the world’s best egg salad recipe.

For some inexplicable reason The Lovin’ Spoonful appears in the movie from time to time. Well, they’re probably in the movie because they’re 100% American in sound and appearance so the juxtaposition of these California dudes and their music in a Japanese movie probably struck Woody as exceptionally funny.

Unfortunately, it’s not.

The original Japanese film, itself, is painful to watch (and you can watch it here since somebody uploaded the original to YouTube). The original dialogue that Woody added, although occasionally comical, only adds to the cringeworthiness. The voices are annoying in the extreme.

The Japanese spy in the movie is Tatsuya Mihashi, who also appeared in the WW II movie Tora! Tora! Tora! Mihashi died in 2004 at age 80. So he would have been 43 in this movie.

Woody was 31.

I suppose that’s as good excuse as any for this turkey of a film. I doubt I could have done any better when I was 31, except I would have been smart enough to know not to do something like this.

Here’s the trailer for the film. You be the judge.

By the way, Woody Allen provides one of the dub voices as does Louise Lassiter, his wife at the time.

Still isn’t funny.

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