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Woody Allen, Senkichi Taniguchi
Woody Allen, Tatsuya Mihashi, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama
Writing Credits:
Woody Allen, Julie Bennett, Frank Buxton, Louise Lasser, Len Maxwell, Mickey Rose, Bryan Wilson

He's not the world's greatest lover ... but 8th place isn't bad!

A sick, evil mastermind with an addiction to egg salad ... sadistic, torture-inflicting doublecrossers ... gorgeous girls hungry for lovin' ... a wierd marriage between a killer cobra and a chicken! Only one man is daring, clever and sexy enough to take on this kind of mission: superspy Phil Moskowitz!

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Monaural
Not Closed-captioned

Runtime: 80 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 7/15/2003

• Alternate TV Soundtrack
• Woody Allen Filmography

Search Titles:

Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 3, 2003)

Woody Allen fans rejoice – you can now fill out that empty space in your collection! For a couple of years now, only one of Allen’s old flicks remained absent from DVD. Oddly, it was his first and probably his strangest: 1966’s What’s Up, Tiger Lily?

To say that Allen directed Tiger is something of a misnomer. He didn’t sit behind the camera to shoot much of the film. Instead, as an explanatory clip early in the flick tells us, the producers bought an Asian spy romp and then Allen rewrote the dialogue, re-edited it, and had actors dub new lines in English.

Presumably intended to be the Japanese James Bond, we can’t quite tell how seriously the original project took itself. In Allen’s hands, however, the emphasis becomes totally comedic. It presents secret agent Phil Moskowitz (Tatsuya Mihashi), a “lovable rogue” who takes on baddies and beds the babes with the same aplomb as a certain more famous British dude. Tiger presents a tremendously thin plot in which it focuses solely on the pursuit to find a secret recipe for egg salad.

Yes, the movie really is that silly. An Asian spy with a Jewish name who seeks a special method to create egg salad indicates a flick that doesn’t take anything seriously, and it occasionally works pretty well. On the positive side, Allen knows better than to tax the viewer with a Bondian running time. Instead of the two-hours-plus of the typical 007 affair, Tiger clocks in at a brisk 80 minutes. A parody of this sort easily could get old quickly, so it’s good that Allen tries to prevent that.

However, I must acknowledge that Tiger presents a moderate amount of filler. Primarily this relates to one of the movie’s main weaknesses: its terrible psychedelic rock score written by the Lovin’ Spoonful. Actually, I can’t slam the music too heavily; its cheesiness suits a project of this sort. However, I don’t think the Spoonful meant for the music to sound so bad; the score simply hasn’t aged very well.

Oddly, Allen chose to spotlight the Spoonful a couple of times during the movie via some very incongruous club scenes. Out of nowhere, we see young folks dancing and the band playing their feeble tunes. This only occurs twice, but it seems bizarre and out of place. Granted, with a flick this odd, the interruption doesn’t come across as radically awkward, but these scenes come across as the worst kind of filler.

Maybe Allen had to placate the band to get their participation. Maybe they added these scenes to pad out the running time. As I noted, Tiger only lasts 80 minutes as it is, and I’d guess that after the music clips, Allen’s short moments, and credits, the actual story fills a mere 70 minutes.

Which still might be too long. Essentially a novelty flick anyway, Tiger starts to wear out its welcome as it progresses. That doesn’t mean it produces no good laughs toward the end. Actually, some of the flick’s funniest moments show up during its final act. Nonetheless, it does grow a bit tedious after a while. It’s a gimmicky film and the lack of a real storyline makes it peter out somewhat toward the end.

Still, What’s Up, Tiger Lily? tosses out enough moderately amusing bits to make it an occasional winner. Very silly and a little too long even at a mere 80 minutes, the movie probably won’t enjoy much of an audience beyond die-hard Woody Allen fans. Nonetheless, it seems like a fairly fun little romp that gives us a reasonable amount of entertainment.

The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio C-/ Bonus C-

What’s Up, Tiger Lily? appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Some aspects of the transfer exceeded my expectations, but the picture generally looked rather ordinary.

Sharpness caused some of the image’s most notable concerns. The movie usually manifested acceptable detail, but it often appeared somewhat flat and ill defined. The softness never became extreme, but I felt a fair amount of the flick was less distinct than I expected. Jagged edges and shimmering created no issues, but I noticed a moderate amount of edge enhancement. On the positive side, print flaws were much less prominent than I anticipated. I saw a couple of small specks and the occasional wee hair, but the majority of the movie demonstrated no defects. (One scene at the end features a large hair, but it was clearly intentional and part of the humor.)

Colors tended to appear fairly dull. The hues usually came across as somewhat bland and drab. They never seemed terribly pale or faded, but they were a little dense and not very vivid. Black levels seemed acceptable, though they tended toward the inky side of things, and shadow detail was a little weak. Low-light shots appeared a bit heavy and slightly more impenetrable than I thought they should be. Given the film’s origins and age, I still thought Tiger merited a “C” despite the various concerns. The softness caused the biggest problems, but I needed to give the transfer credit for the surprising cleanliness of the print.

The film’s monaural soundtrack seemed pretty ordinary as well. Obviously, all the movie’s speech was dubbed, and it never integrated naturally. Indeed, it wasn’t supposed to blend well, so I couldn’t criticize the flick for that. However, the lines didn’t seem very well recorded, as they tended to appear fairly dense and rather edgy. Intelligibility was mostly fine, which was required since Image failed to provide any subtitles or closed captioning.

Effects and music were erratic but generally seemed a bit below average. The former came across as somewhat rough and distorted at times, and they favored the trebly side of the register; those elements were tinny and lacked much range. Music also sounded thin and moderately harsh, and the dynamics were fairly restricted. A little bass emerged at times, but the high end dominated the mix. The quality was acceptable enough to warrant a “C-“, but don’t expect good audio from this film.

Only a couple of extras accompany Tiger. The most interesting one comes from an alternate soundtrack. Created for TV presentations of Tiger, it cleans up a few of the film’s tawdrier lines. For example, “Hey – you’ve got my vibrator” becomes “Hey, that’s a rented car”. In a nice touch, the DVD offers a menu that presents just the scenes that were changed; you can flip between audio tracks to hear the differences.

Finally, Tiger includes a Woody Allen Filmography. This simply lists all his work in reverse chronological order.

What’s Up, Tiger Lily? started Woody Allen’s film career on an odd note, and it remains something of an asterisk on his résumé many decades later. A fairly spotty flick, the goofy parody contributes enough humor and silliness to make it worth a look, though it never becomes anything special. The DVD presents fairly average picture and sound; both show their age but remain acceptable overall. Extras seem slim, but the addition of the movie’s TV soundtrack adds value. No one will ever count Tiger as a Woody Allen classic, but it remains a moderately entertaining diversion. Fans will likely be very happy to find this DVD, though, especially since it seems to present the film in its theatrical aspect ratio for the first time on home video.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1904 Stars Number of Votes: 21
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