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, Continue reading

Day 151: …Hello Woody!

Woody_Allen_(2006)I’ve always been a fan of Woody Allen’s movies.

I liked his standup comedy in the 1960s, as well – which works out great since many of his early movies featured the same jokes he told in his standup routines.

Woody Allen was born Allan Stewart Konigsberg on December 1, 1935, in the Bronx, New York. His is 78 years old.

I’m not quite sure what it is about Woody’s movies that I enjoy so much. I think it’s partly his quirky mannerisms and clever dialogue and partly his stamina as a screenwriter/director. He creates virtually a movie every year – a pace others half his age would have a hard time matching. I find that remarkable in itself. The fact that some of his very best films (Match Point, Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine) came at a point in his life where you’d think he’d either (a) run out of ideas, or (b) need to slow down is doubly remarkable.

Tonight, however, I don’t intend to start with one of his best films. I will, in fact, start with one I consider among his worst – What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

Oh, well. You gotta start somewhere.

Here’s how this will work: For the next 46 days, I’ll watch every major release film that Woody Allen directed, from What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966) to Blue Jasmine (2013).

There are two very minor works he directed that are rare: Men of Crisis: The Harvey Wallinger Story (1971), a 25-minute film that was never released theatrically and now can only be seen at The Paley Center for Media, and Sounds from a Town I Love (2001), a three-minute film that I found on YouTube. I’ll watch the latter. I’m not flying to New York to watch the former. Sorry.

I’ve already seen most of Woody’s movies. But never in chronological order. And never from the standpoint of analyzing them, intently studying them. So this will be interesting.

Or not.

Who knows?

I’m willing to roll the dice.

If you’re feeling adventurous, join me.