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Film / What's Up, Tiger Lily?

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What's Up, Tiger Lily? is a 1966 comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen in his directorial debut.

The film, featuring a soundtrack by The Lovin' Spoonful, is a Gag Dub of the 1965 Japanese spy film/James Bond clone International Secret Police: Key of Keys, in which superspy Phil Moscowitz searches for a secret egg salad recipe stolen from the leader of a "real-sounding but non-existent" country ("We're on the waiting list. As soon as a spot opens up on the map, we're in.").

The idea of a gag dub was so new that Allen appears in an interview segment at the beginning to explain the concept.

This version of the film contains examples of:

  • And Call Him "George": Quoted verbatim from the original.
  • Animated Credits Opening: Sort of. A cartoon version of Allen cavorts amongst various quick-edited cheesecake stills of original Japanese cast member (and future Bond girl) Mie Hama.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "They kill, they maim, and they call information for numbers they could easily look up in the phone book."
  • Audience Participation: Phil asks the audience to believe in his gun having bullets so that he can shoot the villain.
  • Bowdlerized: There are edited versions that remove the more risque jokes.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    Phil Moscowitz: Nothing much to report — oh, somebody tried to shoot me before the opening credits.
  • Flowery Insults: "Russian snake!" "Anglo-Saxon hun!" "Spartan dog!" "Turkish taffy!" "Spanish Fly!"
  • Gag Dub: Woody Allen's comedic dialogue over a Japanese spy film.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: The poster pictured above refers to a "Chinese fortune 'KOOKIE'". But the film being dubbed over is not Chinese, it's Japanese.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Hero Phil Moskowitz and his girl assistant, tied up, think they've been abducted by bad guy Shepard Wong, but it turns out to be a second bad guy, Wing Fat, who introduces himself: "I am Wong's competitor." Phil quips, "Well...two Wongs don't make a wight!" Wing Fat smiles and says, "For that joke you should only drop dead."
  • Ms. Fanservice: Playboy Playmate China Lee, who does a striptease during the closing credits. She also appears in the poster art shown above.
    Woody Allen: I promised her I'd put her in the film...somewhere.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: A bartender character is given a Peter Lorre voice. Eventually lampshaded:
    Snake Man: Ugh, my throat. This Peter Lorre impersonation is keeling me!
  • Noodle Implements:
    Phil: Meet me in the bedroom in five minutes and bring a cattle prod.
  • Not My Driver: Parodied: the main characters hop into a random taxi and then ask the driver to kidnap them, to which he obliges (seeing as the scene was a straight example in the original film).
  • Punny Name: Teri Yaki and Suki Yaki.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Lovin' Spoonful's upbeat folk-rock soundtrack provides a complement to the Gag Dub dialogue in keeping things light, in spite of all the serious cloak-and-dagger action onscreen.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: One character's cry of "Banzai!" is met with groans of disgust from the other characters.
    "Oh, God. Would somebody please tell him?"
  • Viewers Are Morons: Defied for comedy. Midway through, the film cuts back to the interviewer.
    Interviewer: Woody, since the story is a bit difficult to follow, would you mind giving the audience and myself a brief rundown on what's gone on so far?
    Allen: (flatly) No.