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Sunday, May 17, 2015

WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT (1965)

Odd that Woody Allen’s film debut as writer/actor is so little known. One of those Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod, Mod World sex comedies from the ‘60s, it feels pretty forced now, with everyone trying too hard to be ’up to date’ and ‘with it.’ Peter O’Toole is rather charming as the romantic fool who’d do anything for fiancé Romy Schneider . . . except set the date. If only his handsome face didn’t catch the light ‘just so’ and drive bevies of beauties into his arms. And dear, oh dear, what screen beauties they are! Ursula Andress, Paula Prentiss, high-fashioned & funny Capucine, and hordes of runners-up. Maybe nutty analyst Peter Sellers, in long hair & Mittle-Europa accent, can talk him thru the crisis? Or, at least, pick up on the leftovers. Meantime, sidekick/pal Woody hopes to move in, or at least kibbitz, if a short guy is needed. Anyone for nebbish? Director Clive Donner occasionally tries to stage a bit of action, but largely seems content to hang back and hope this mess will get fixed in the editing room. No such luck. (Richard Lester he ain’t.) There’s always that catchy Burt Bacharach/Hal David/Tom Jones title track; a Carnaby Street ‘Pop’ look via lenser Jean Badal (soon to work wonders on Jacques Tati’s PLAYTIME/’67); and a goofy stab at Richard III from Sellers in an otherwise discipline-free outing.

DOUBLE-BILL: Producer Charles K. Feldman brought similar wayward ‘60s excess to his James Bond fiasco, CASINO ROYALE/’67, which at least offered one grand set piece for Deborah Kerr as a whacked out nun.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: As helpfully noted by Talk Show vet Dick Cavett, Peter O’Toole is the only actor whose first and last names are each euphemisms for the male genitalia.

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