Take a Drink: for any terrible pun
Take a Drink: for random cut-aways to unconnected music scenes or other strangeness
Do a Shot: when Woody Allen is on screen
Do a Shot: for Lovin Spoonful songs
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Woody Allen was fresh off the success of his his first screenplay What’s New Pussycat? when he was approached by American International Pictures to write new dialogue to dub over International Secret Police: Key of Keys, a Japanese spy film, to make it appeal to stateside audiences. Allen and a group of comedy friends took it upon themselves to write an all new story, with an emphasis on absurdity, and Allen recut the film to suit his own design. The new plot is easily described in the below 11 second scene.
The search for the world’s greatest Egg Salad recipe makes for a surprisingly compelling plot line, particularly for hungry viewers.
At the time this film was released, spy films were all the rage, and the more over the top, the better. Woody Allen and company created a true Frankenstein’s Monster of a film, parodying the genre by the comical re-editing of a genuine Bond film clone. The film is full of clever takes of spy cliches as well as numerous wonderful non-sequiturs which often work on multiple levels (re-naming the lead character “Phil Moscowitz” is both a hilarious contrast for the Japanese actor, as well as delightfully unexceptional name for an international super-spy).
As with so many screwball comedies, the jokes are thrown out with reckless abandon. It seems amazing that What’s Up, Tiger Lily? received a theatrical release in its time, as the kind of humor on display here often feels as rough as a college prank.
The biggest offenders tend to be a series of unfortunate puns, and cheap sex gags. Lowbrow as the humor can be, if you threw it against the wall like spaghetti, most of it still sticks.
The inclusion of multiple music-video sequences by the then-hugely popular band The Lovin Spoonful was done without Woody Allen’s consent, and exist as little more than padding. The songs are themselves quite good, particularly “Pow!” which serves as the film’s theme song. But their inclusion does nothing for the movie, other than slow down the pacing. These scenes are best enjoyed while getting up to do other things.
The slapped-together nature of the “film” is easily overcome by Woody Allen and team’s wry sense of humor. The jokes are fast and bitingly clever, even as tossed-off as they can often seem.