Film: What's New Pussycat?

What's New, Pussycat? is a 1965 comedy film directed by Clive Donner and starring Peter Sellers, Peter O'Toole, Romy Schneider, Capucine, Paula Prentiss and Ursula Andress. It was Woody Allen's film debut, as well as his first produced script.

Notorious womanizer Michael James (O'Toole) wants to be faithful to his fiancée, Carole Werner (Schneider), but every woman he meets seems to fall in love with him, including a neurotic American (Prentiss) and a parachutist (Andress) who accidentally lands in his car. His psychoanalyst, Dr Fassbender (Sellers), cannot help, either, since he's stalking one of his patients (Capucine) who in turn longs for Michael. A catastrophe appears on the horizon when all the characters check into a quaint hideaway hotel in the French countryside for the weekend, unaware of one another's presence.

What's New, Pussycat? contains examples of:

  • Black Comedy Rape: Dr. Fassbender's pursuit of his patient is portrayed as hilarious, even though he repeatedly tries to tear her clothes off, and presumably, to rape her.
  • Brawn Hilda: Such a woman is married to Viennese psychiatrist Peter Sellers. She tracks him down to a hotel in full Wagnerian dress to stop his philandering, and appears to be a Freudian nightmare to Woody Allen.
  • Car Cushion: very soon after Peter O'Toole vows to give up womanizing for his impending marriage, skydiver Ursula Andress lands next to him in his open roadster.
  • Chick Magnet: Michael, a fate he alternately bemoans and takes advantage of.
  • Closet Shuffle: Taken this to absurd levels, climaxing in a hotel where all the guests (except the protagonist, he hopes) is hiding an illicit affair with someone else. At one point, in fact, Victor lets a woman hide in the closet of the room he's in with his date... then does the same with the man chasing her.
  • Crazy People Play Chess: Victor plays strip-chess but lands up fainting from tension.
  • Dream Sequence
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: The film opens with Peter Sellers, in a velvet suit and shoulder-length hair, arguing with his wife who accuses him of seeing another woman. She demands "Is she prettier than me?" He shouts "Is she prettier than you?! ...I'm prettier than you!"
    • Michael later mistakes him for a girl he had been pursuing.
    • "It has got nothing to do with the hair!"
  • Eiffel Tower Effect
  • Elevator Going Down: Capucine and Peter O'Toole's characters agree the proper setting is essential, then promptly make use of an elevator. In the throes of ecstasy he assures her it's perfectly safe, so long as the combined weight of the two people does not exceed 1400 pounds.
  • Gainax Ending: the drawn-out climatical sequence during which the entire cast lands up staying at the same resort, with a bomb and a bunch of perverts looking for an orgy in their midst. After all landing up in one hotel suite, in various compromising situations, they join forces to charge down the police officers that try to apprehend them, and all of the major conflicts created throughout the film are immediately resolved simply by their escape. Also, Rita somehow becomes fully clothed during the sequence.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: At the rendezvous hotel where the suites are named for famous lovers, the concierge gets a call and tells her husband "The gentleman in 'Marquis de Sade' asks for twelve loaves of bread and a Boy Scout uniform!"
  • Here We Go Again: When he sees Michael and Carole arguing again after apparently sorting everything out, Fritz's last line is "Perhaps I haven't lost a son. Maybe I've gained another patient."
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes
  • Kavorka Man: "When the light hits me in a certain angle, I'm actually...handsome!" In-universe, Michael is this. But all you have to do is take one look at Peter O'Toole and get the joke.
  • Love Triangle
  • Oh, Crap: Michael has several of these throughout the film.
    • "As a man's life goes down the drain, you are there."
    • "Our Father..."
  • The Pornomancer: Michael.
  • Sauna of Death: Woody Allen tries to do in friend/romantic rival Peter O'Toole by cranking up the heat in the steam room they're in. O'Toole thrives on the steam, and Allen nearly passes out (doesn't help that he's fully dressed, sportcoat, glasses and all).
  • Shaped Like Itself
    Fassbender: Don't call me that again until I look it up! [He looks it up] Ah, a lascivious adulterer is a man who is a lascivious adulterer! What kind of book is this?
  • Shout-Out: Many. Vincent van Gogh and Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec are shown at a sidewalk cafe, and O'Toole makes a James Bond comment about Andress.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Victor goes down to the harbor by night to celebrate his birthday with a dinner every year. This year Fassbender has come down on exactly the same night to commit suicide, which puts them in competition. In the end it works out well, as they land up talking through each other's problems.
  • Technical Virgin: Paula Prentiss's neurotic character owns up to being a 'semi-virgin', explaining "Here [in Paris] I'm a virgin; in America I'm not" without further elaboration.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Lascivious adulterer!

Alternative Title(s):

Whats New Pussycat