What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)

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Released 15-Nov-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Notes-The Bond Girls
Notes-The Lovin' Spoonful Soundtrack
Biographies-Cast-Woody Allen
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 79:54
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Woody Allen

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Tatsuya Mihashi
Akiko Wakabayashi
Mie Hama
Tadao Nakamura
Susumu Kurobe
John Sebastian
Woody Allen
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $28.95 Music The Loving Spoonfuls

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Being first in something doesn't necessarily correlate to being the best. What's Up, Tiger Lily? is the first movie I can think of that takes an old movie and overdubs it with new dialogue. I have seen its like since with the movie Hercules Returns (done by the same people as did the Double Take theatrical overdubs that were locally popular) and of course the Late Show's very anal redub of the TV series Bluey into the irreverant Bargea*se.

    Unlike those two 'icons' of humour though, What's Up, Tiger Lily? has lost almost all of its zest and falls flat over an uninspiring 80 minutes. Strangely enough, I fondly remember this movie from when I first saw it in the mid 70s and in my mind it was a lot funnier then than it is now, which says something both for the memory and the perception of humour; something funny twenty years ago can be fondly remembered even if it seems awfully dated now. Typically though, the longevity of this type of comedy, especially when its humour is firmly lodged into a time period, is highly limited. The 1960s may have seen the sexual revolution, hippies and the start of the drug culture but they certainly weren't the time for classic comedies.

    What's Up, Tiger Lily? was made by Woody Allen, who purchased the original movie for a sum of US$66,000 and then rewrote the script and overdubbed this over the original movie. The original movie was called Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi or International Secret Police: Key of Keys, a rather uninspiring take-off of the James Bond movies of the day (it was originally released in 1964 - What's Up was released by Allen in 1966). There appears to be a huge number of edits to the original movie making it hard to follow the script, or the rewrite, and there are several added scenes interspersed with the original Japanese footage including footage of the Loving Spoonfuls, a rather obscure (to me anyway) band from the 60's doing a couple of numbers as well as an introduction by Allen and new end credits.

    If you are that desperate for a plot, well it goes vaguely like this. Phil Moscowitz (Tatsuya Mihashi) is an agent for Interpol tracking down an arch criminal, Shepherd Wong (Tadao Nakamaru), who has stolen the formula for the ultimate egg salad. After mistakenly rescuing Suki Yaki (Akiko Wakabayashi) who escapes from prison by climbing the walls, he goes after the egg salad formula with Suki and her sister Teri Yaki (Mie Hama), both of whom you may remember from the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice where they reprise similar roles, after being convinced that this will secure the future of a small country that actually doesn't exist yet. In order to secure the secret formula, Moscowitz must overcome both Wong and another gangster, Wing Fat (Susumu Kurobe), who is trying to blackmail Wong with the threat of releasing naked pictures of him to school children (scripted in a much more innocent time naturally).

    Unfortunately, I found that there was a real sense of disjointedness to the whole movie after all these years. The best character in the movie is played by Eisei Amamoto as a snake-training Peter Lorre rip-off but overall this is a movie that belongs firmly in its day and hasn't travelled all that well. The dialogue is old, and much of Allen's sexual innuendos are very tame after nearly forty years. The pity is that I really was looking forward to this movie but time and maturity have robbed me of the innocence that once made this a must-see comedy.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    You wouldn't have high expectations for an old movie, especially something that began life as a B-grade Japanese effort from the mid-60s, which was then remade as a comedy. All things considered it is surprising, therefore, how well this has stood the test of time, although don't get your hopes up too high. The vast majority of problems with this transfer are caused by the lack of anamorphic enhancement and a less than stellar bitrate (averaging around 6Mb/sec). Overall the movie is quite watchable, but don't expect anything too flash.

    The original movie was presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. This transfer is letterboxed at 2.30:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Although slightly on the blurry side, the movie is watchable although there is heavy use of edge enhancement throughout. Shadow detail is only mediocre but this is more due to the low budget nature of the original than anything to do with the transfer. Backgrounds show some detail but for the most part fine detail is severely limited. Grain was surprisingly light throughout the movie, possibly because the overcompressed nature of the picture didn't allow it too much chance to be noticeable. Low level noise was not an issue.

    The colour ranges from washed out to nicely saturated depending upon where in the movie you make your determination. Overall the colours are acceptable for a movie of this age with a decent palette in use. The intercut footage of Allen and The Loving Spoonfuls are actually amongst the most objectionable with the colours looking more faded or tending towards oversaturation. No colour bleed or chroma noise was noticed.

    There was plenty of pixelization on offer throughout (14:56 on the prison wall) with aliasing and moiré artefacts littering the landscape constantly. Aliasing can be best seen at 1:45 (building rails), 12:43 (shower door) and 17:28 (on car). Moiré artefacts occur more frequently but the most noticeable were at 3:36 (Allen's jacket) and at 62:45 (again on jacket). There were constant little flecks and white marks on the print which occurred throughout the movie, but never became really annoying. There were just enough on offer to make them noticeable throughout. Reel change marks can be seen at 17:21, 33:34, 49:03 (3 in quick succession) and 64:44.

    Given the over-dubbed nature of this movie it was surprising that no subtitles were on offer.

    This was a single layered disc.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one audio track on this disc, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 kilobits per second. My system properly decoded this into a Pro-Logic mono track, consistent with the original movie which was also in mono. The rear cover of the DVD also lists the soundtrack as a Dolby Digital Mono track.

    Given the fact that this was overdubbed there was no problem with the dialogue but the syncing was awful, which is after all part of the humour.

    The music is provided by The Lovin' Spoonfuls, a band with minor celebrity status from the mid 60s who crop up now and then on programs such as The History of Rock and Roll where there is much made of their contribution. Not being a big fan of this era of music I'll have to take their word for it, but the music for the movie was at least colourful and bright, and you can easily see the popular effect this may have had on viewers at the time.

    There was no surround channel or subwoofer activity on this disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

    A 1960s style menu with minimal animation and extracts (some of which aren't in the actual movie but are shown during the opening sequence prior to the movie proper) are shown in a small insert. Music from the movie accompanies this menu. Effective, simple and elegant.


    16 pictures of the girls from the movie in various sexy poses.


    Notes detailing Mie Hama and Akiko Wakabayashi who were in this movie and You Only Live Twice. 5 pages of information


    A simple one page screen on The Loving Spoonfuls' soundtrack album from the movie, including cover artwork.


    Basically a 20 page spread on Woody Allen and his biography. Includes some details on this movie and other movies he's made over the years.

Theatrical Trailer

    With a running time of 1:35, this is offered up in full frame, 1.33:1 ratio. Apart from a major scratch about 6 seconds this is a fairly standard offering in terms of trailers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There appears to be no Region 1 review of this disc at this time, and indeed no release of this movie on DVD in Region 1. The DVD is not region restricted (although it is in PAL) and there are reviews of this DVD in Region 2 although details are a little sketchy. All things considered, I'd doubt a much more comprehensive version will be released in the near future and the only thing that could possibly make this disc more attractive in another region would be 16x9 enhancement. Stick to the local version for the moment.


    For me, What's Up, Tiger Lily? is a part of my history but it has dated badly since the days when I first ran across it at university. Although it still has the odd humorous moment, most of the polish has long since gone. Still, if you like Woody Allen, or are interested in comedy there are still some funny moments to be had.

    The video is largely mediocre. Probably the best it can be described as is superior VHS but at least it won't deteriorate. The biggest problem is the lack of anamorphic enhancement which confines the movie to a compressed mess in the middle of the screen.

    The audio is strictly mono but this is precisely as it was released and anything more would be a waste.

    The extras are probably as good as you'll get for a movie with limited appeal and nearly 40 years old.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Monday, April 08, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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