What's Up, Tiger Lily?
is the first film
directed by Woody Allen
. He also wrote and appeared in this 1966 comedy
, which took Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi
(literal English title: International Secret Police: Key of Keys
, 1965), a Japanese spy film
, and overdubbed it with completely original dialogue
that had nothing to do with the plot of the original film. By putting in new scenes
and rearranging the order of existing scenes, he completely changed the tone of the film from a James Bond
clone into a comedy about the search for the world's best egg salad recipe.
Replacing a foreign movie's soundtrack for comic effect has since been used in television shows like Kung Faux, Spike TV's MXC, and movies such as Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Alien, Flesh Eating, Hellbound, Zombified Living Dead Part 2: In Shocking 2-D, Troma Entertainment's Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters and Steve Oedekerk's Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. Fractured Flickers, which predated Tiger Lily, dubbed silent films with comedic dialogue. Some have also suggested the film as a possible inspiration for television's Mystery Science Theater 3000, in which old "B-movies" are accompanied by a humorous running commentary throughout.
Louise Lasser, who was married to Allen at the time, served as one of the voice actors for the "new" dialogue soundtrack, as did Mickey Rose, Allen's writing partner on Take The Money and Run and Bananas.
During post-production, musical numbers by the band The Lovin' Spoonful were spliced into the movie against Woody Allen's wishes. This helped convince Allen that he should secure creative control for all his future projects. The band released a soundtrack album.
The plot is basically an excuse to string along sight gags
, jokes based on Asian stereotypes
, and general farce
. The central plot involves the misadventures of secret agent Phil Moskowitz, hired by the Grand Exalted High Majah of Raspur ("a nonexistent but real-sounding country") to find a secret egg salad
recipe that was stolen from him. The movie has an ending unrelated to the plot, in which China Lee
, the Playboy Playmate
and then-wife of Allen's comic idol Mort Sahl
, who does not appear elsewhere in the film, does a striptease while Allen explains that he promised that he would put her in the film somewhere.
Within Woody Allen
's altered version, the main characters include:
- Phil Moscowitz — (played by Tatsuya Mihashi) A self-described "lovable rogue."
- Suki Yaki — (played by Akiko Wakabayashi) A beautiful woman who seduces Phil and later works alongside him as a spy. She has a sister, Teri Yaki (played by Mie Hama), who helps as well.
- Shepherd Wong — (played by Tadao Nakamaru) An evil gang leader who has the world's greatest egg salad recipe.
- Wing Fat — (played by Susumu Kurobe) An evil gangster who teams up with Phil to steal the recipe from Shepherd Wong, but intends to keep it for himself.
The soundtrack album to What's Up, Tiger Lily? was released in 1966. It contains music by The Lovin' Spoonful. It was re-released on CD along with You're a Big Boy Now, the Spoonful's soundtrack for the 1966 Francis Ford Coppola film. It reached No. 126 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts.
- "Introduction to Flick" – 2:14
- "Pow!" – 2:26
- "Gray Prison Blues" – 2:04
- "Pow Revisited" – 2:26
- "Unconscious Minute" – 2:05
- "Fishin' Blues" – 1:59
- "Respoken" – 1:48
- "Cool Million" – 2:02
- "Speakin' of Spoken" – 2:41
- "Lookin' to Spy" – 2:29
- "Phil's Love Theme" – 2:23
- "End Title" – 4:06