on April 5, 2004
The first screwball comedy to be a box office blockbuster since the early forties, WHAT'S UP, DOC? fills it's 94 minute runtime with so many terrific one-liners, double innuendoes, and visual puns that the average viewer will probably have to watch the film a couple of times before he or she catches all of the jokes! Apparently the film inspired repeat viewing even during it's initial release - Doc was the third-highest grossing film of 1972 (right behind THE GODFATHER and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE). In all honesty, I think this film has a higher laugh-per-second ratio than any film before or since.
This film was the perfect (and surprising) way for director Peter Bogdanovich to follow-up his cinematic landmark THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, and he keeps the film's momentum running right at the perfect speed. He also knows how to cast a film flawlessly. Buck Henry's marvelous screenplay contains many scenes with overlapping dialogue and double reverses, and the entire cast never misses a beat. Barbra Streisand literally radiates with magnetism throughout the entire film! Anyone who still wonders why she was the highest grossing actress of the seventies definitely needs to see this film; Streisand's performance in DOC is what being a movie star is all about. Many critics complained that Ryan O'Neal was miscast when the film was originally released, and those critics obviously missed out on the joke. The fact that O'Neal was considered a heartthrob at the time was all part of the fun in seeing him cast as complete goof; and I don't think anyone can deny the fact that he throws himself into the role completely.
As most viewers already know, Madeline Kahn has her finest screen role in Doc, and steals nearly every scene she's in (and she wisely knows just how far to push the characterization without going over the edge). The rest DOC'S supporting cast also could not be improved upon, Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendlrton, and Liam Dunn give just three of the standout performances in this perfect supporting ensemble. As with most comedies, DOC was snubbed at the Academy Awards (Bogdanovich, Streisand, and Kahn all deserved nominations in the respective categories in my opinion), but time has been good to DOC and remains far more popular than many of the films that did get Oscar noms in 1972. Arguably, the best comedy of all time.
About the DVD: The picture quality is very good - a tad soft at times, but very natural and true to the film's original look. The sound is mono, but it's well-rendered. It's great to have the trailer and vintage featurette preserved on disc, and while Streisand's brief commentary isn't very illumenating, Bogdanovich's full-length track is very informative and entertaining.
on December 10, 2012
Great screwball comedy that I have to watch every year...and still have issues following the suitcases. Ryan and Barb are so young, beautiful and perfect for their roles...but Eunice (Madeline Kahn in her first movie role?) steals the show for me. I always wanted to to go to San Fran and stay at the Hotel Bristol in room 1716 but that was actually filmed on a sound stage. Too bad they really did some damage during the incredible chase scene through San Francisco...those poor stairs. This is such a fun movie.
on January 1, 2002
Screwball comedy is a genre that always conjures up images of classic films like "His Girl Friday", "My Man Godfrey", and "The Awful Truth". Often overlooked is "What's Up, Doc", perhaps because anything made in the 1970's may seem too late born to qualify as a true screwball classic. But qualify it does.
Peter Bogdanovich took a break from the heavier themes that were popular at the time, throwing open the windows for some fresh air: a true madcap romp, served up with zest and abandon by a talented cast, most of whom seem to be having a wonderful time, completely in tune with the mood of the picture.
The more elite among Barbra Streisand fans may tend to look down on this lighthearted performance, preferring the artistry of her musical and dramatic skills. To those, may we say: Aw, lighten up! She's darn funny as Judy Maxwell. Carole Lombard herself, who epitomized the Screwball Comedienne,couldn't have done better in the role. A priceless cast includes Madeline Kahn and Kenneth Mars, and if prizes were ever given for Performances That Should Have Been Nominated For An Award, surely one would have gone to Liam Dunn as the haggard Judge Maxwell ("You made me smash my LifeSavers!")
A fast-moving and clever comedy, with a plethora of funny lines to requote with your friends at parties (even my kids toss them around), this is worth checking out if you have somehow missed it. I predict you'll end up adding it to your library.
on November 18, 2000
Once upon a time there was a plaid overnight bag. . . or could there be, four? The first one, owned by Judy Maxwell (an outrageous chick played by Barbara Streisand), contains nothing more than her clothes and who wants those? The second bag, is owned by Howard Bannister (an uptight musicologist, played by Ryan O'Neal), and contains igneous rocks. . . need I say more? The last two each hold some costly items that are being desperately pursued. And so the story begins, in the Bristol Hotel, where Howard and his obnoxious fiancé, Eunice, are attending a party for the Congress of American Musicologists. Per orders from Eunice, Howard is sent to the drugstore to purchase some aspirin for his headache but returns with an even larger headache. Judy Maxwell has something about her annoyingly intriguing that Howard can't quite get a grip on. She seems to do nothing but cause havoc wherever she goes and at the same time seems to make things better. Put Judy's mishaps together with the mix-ups of the plaid overnight bag and you got one cool flick. Although the fashions in this one aren't all that hip, considering the year the movie was made, you do get a glimpse inside one smashing space-age flat owned by the eccentric Mr. Lareby. The finale shows some great scenery from San Francisco, the perfect city to film such a delightful movie.
on March 17, 2016
...the good ol 'Burnsy asks her completely overwhelmed fiance Howard "Steve" bannister. But in vain!
There is simply no answer to this question or to who for now is trying to grab just which one of the 4 completely identical bags with - of course - completely un-identical content. Because even before such questions only one of the numerous members of this motley heap of loonies could possibly answer at all, Barbra Streisand as Queen Qaos long already has added even more chaotic chaos to the chaotic situation, so that neither Steve nor Howard ever know whether they are male or female! It is simply H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.
yes, HILARIOUS. In the very best slapstick and screwball manner director Bogdanovich speeeeeeeeeds up as you have never seen it. (except of course in Billy Wilder's "1,2,3")
The pace is so breathtaking, that amount of gags as high as the density of an atomic nucleus.
The performers play with childishly naive enthusiasm and esp. the two "ladies" Streisand and Kahn (as totally stiff-prudish Burnsy she is simply a blast!) are just brilliant.
The other ingredients:
1 hotel-room on fire in addition to the mentioned 4 identical bags, about 9 golf clubs, 2 certified window-jugglers and 1 pound of jewels, 0.07 Agents and 1 prehistoric collection of ancient rocks, about 8 tons of car scrap and all that topped with a pill-addicted judge just beyond of a nervous breakdown.
Well, that sounds silly, but quite interesting... doesn't it?
Esp. in the 70s many of imho the most absurd comedies were created. What's up doc.... is one of the best ones EVER!!!
(amongst + Monty Python's Holy Grail, Louis de Funes - Mr. Jo, and Inspector Clouseau)
cheers, >>>>>> th ntwstr - Rating = 95% (a masterpiece!)
on November 14, 2003
WHAT'S UP, DOC? has to stand as one of the finest remakes of a great original ever made. By and large, remakes of classics are profoundly stupid. Although the remakes virtually never match the originals (and admittedly this one is no exception), most are merely pale imitations. Although this one does not come close to supplanting BRINGING UP BABY, it nonetheless manages to bring enough originality to make it utterly delightful. Ever since I first saw it, it has remained my favorite Barbra Streisand film, and is delightfully kooky in a way completely different from the way that Hepburn is kooky in the original. Ryan O'Neill is indeed a pale imitation of Cary Grant, but then, who wouldn't be? But Madeleine Kahn, on the other hand, is a remarkable addition to the storyline. This was, for all practical purposes, her film debut, and she makes the most of it.
This was director Peter Bogdanovich's second hit film in a row, following his marvelous THE LAST PICTURE SHOW. The next year he would make PAPER MOON, and for all intents and purposes he seemed to be the next great American director. But then for whatever reason his gifts seemed to desert him, and while he has occasionally reemerged with a decent film, he has never managed to reascend to the level of these three films. He has, however, managed to write a great deal of film criticism, along with one of the greatest collections of interviews with directors ever published. But in this film his direction was fine, and if the comedy towards the end sometimes seems less screwball than Keystone cops, I find it easy to forgive him.
I repeat that this is my favorite Barbra Streisand film. I know people are divided on her looks, but when I look at her in this one, I think she is remarkably beautiful, and her personality is so infectious that she manages to dominate the screen every second she is onscreen. She was so superb in this film that I wonder why she didn't try to undertake similar parts in the future. She did the follow up to FUNNY GIRL, but she never really tried anything this goofy again. It's a tremendous loss, because she obviously excelled at it.
I'm surprised at how well this film has aged in thirty years. Sometimes you go back and see a film two or three decades after you first saw it, and it can be shocking how aged it appears. I had that experience with both TOOTSIE and ROXANNE, and both now seem hopelessly outdated. But this one, despite the early seventies clothes and decor, remains truly fresh.
on July 19, 2003
At 7.3, "What's Up, Doc?" is the highest rated Streisand movie on the Internet Movie Database web site. And, as I've read, it's among la Streisand's least favorite movies. Ironic, but typical for Barbra.
In my opinion, "What's Up, Doc?" is the best comedy Streisand ever did. (One might make a case for "The Way We Were" as her best drama, but it won't be me.)
If I remember correctly, "What's Up, Doc?" was on DVD before but without captions or anything of significance in the way of special features.
The current incarnation includes captions, which I never watch a movie without, and a director's commentary by Peter Bogdanovich. (There's also a brief, selected-scenes, commentary by Streisand that provides next to nothing in the way of insight.) The director's commentary is comprehensive, entertaining and informative.
For example, the fact that Judy calls Howard by the name Steve is a private joke for the benefit of director Howard Hawks, whose wife called him Steve. Or so sayeth Bogdanovich in his commentary.
Also, Bogdanovich says he asked Ryan O'Neal to consult with Cary Grant on how to play Howard Bannister, seeing as how "What's Up, Doc?" was inspired by Grant's movie "Bringing Up Baby." Grant's advice to O'Neal... Wear silk underwear.
on February 21, 2000
This movie was one of my favorites as a child and even now, 25+ years later, it still tickles my funny bone! When I saw it in the 70's, it was the first time for me to see Barbra and Ryan in a movie. They are hilarious and look great. They make a great "on-screen" couple! The late Madeline Kahn is a real gem here also - she is wonderful in each and every scene.
There are almost too many funny scenes to mention here. Scenes to look for are the drug store, the Laraby dinner party, the bubble bath, the fiasco in Howard's room (just listening to Madeline Kahn rant and rave to Howard during this scene cracks me up!) and who could forget Barbra singing to Ryan on top of the piano!
I also love the scene in the court room. The judge is one of my favorites! He is hilarious!
Not to be missed - a real funny movie that has never lost it's charm! This was a movie my parents and I would watch in the 70's every time it was on TV. Now I can enjoy it over and over on video. The only thing that is missing now is a DVD version! Hopefully this will be soon, and when they do, it will include all the outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage!
A wonderful movie that will make you laugh and smile, and a "G" rating to boot, something the whole familiy can enjoy - which these days, is hard to come by! ENJOY!
on July 17, 2003
"How much is it without bufferin?"
I like everything about this movie and the DVD version that has finally just come out. As for the movie, it's funny, witty, entertaining, and even though it's made in the image of a classic screball comedy (Bogdanovich says he even got Howard Hawkes' blessing before starting this picture, which is inspired by Hawkes' "Bringing up Baby"), it seems current.
I won't summarize the bizarre and zany plot too much here (how could I?), except to say that it is about a henpecked musicologist (Ryan O'Neal) who attends a conference in San Francisco with his overbearing and plain fiance (Madeline Kahn). While at the conference he meets and has his life turned upside down by a mischevious young woman (Streisand). In the middle of this are are four identical bags, which of course, get mixed up. And don't forget about the jewel thieves and the cinema's best car chase since The French Connection. Suffice to say, this is a zany movie with humor that functions on many levels and rewards the observant viewer. See it again to catch all the subtle sight gags and jokes that pay off earlier setups. I could go on and on about the inspired script and the wonderful performances by the entire cast, who all seem absolutely perfect in their parts. It is worth the price of admission just to watch the scene where Madeline Kahn's character is dropped off at a seedy location on a pier and meets up with some local thugs. Bogdanovich was at his height when he put this one together. After this--and the wonderful Paper Moon--it was all downhill. . .
As for the DVD, it is a great transfer with a sharp picture and good sound. The print they made if from looks to have been in good shape. For those of us with widescreen TVs, the picture is true anamorphic widescreen, which means it naturally fills up your widescreen without you having to use a "zoom" view. The DVD extras are also very nice, including a complete commentary by Bogdanovich and a selected commentary by Streisand, as well as a mini 'making of' documentary and a trailer or two.
Highly recommended. ****
on July 2, 2003
When writing a review for a movie like "What's Up Doc?" I have to immediatly reach for a thesaurus to help come up with a vocablary list, that has the same meaning as words like 'hilarious' and 'wacky'. For Director, Peter Bogdanovich has created a side-splittingly, funny movie, that pays homage to the classic 'screwball' comedies ("Bringing Up Baby", "The Awful Truth", "All About Eve") of the thirties and fourties. In the film, we meet absent-minded, Dr.Howard Bannister (Ryan O'Neal), who has come to a San Fransico musicologist convention with his obnoxiously shrill, fiance', Eunice (Madeline Kahn) to compete for a $20,000 scientific grant. Unfortuntely he meets up with the sexy yet daffy, Judy Maxwell (Barbra Stiesand), who seems to be a 'force in nature', both knowingly and unknowingly able to create man (or women) made disasters, wherever she goes.The two get involved in a ridiculously complex plot, where identical tote bags containing jewels, top secret government plans, igneous rocks and women's underwear get switched and stolen by thieves, secret agents and various other parties. But you know what? The whole tote bag plot really dosn't matter. Its just a Mcguffin (or excuse) to get the leads together to spout the Marx Brothers-like dialogue and watch the ingenious car chases and slapstick disasters that befall the characters.Director Peter Bogdanovich has crafted a movie which almost brilliantly borders on being a live action, Warner Brothers cartoon. The film makes references to many past comic masters such as the Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy, Buster Keaton , Cary Grant and of course Bugs Bunny.The script (by Robert Benton, David Newman & Buck Henry) is well written containing razor sharp dialogue.There are so many great qouatable lines, that I wouldn't know where to start! The casting of this film is sheer perfection. Ryan O'Neal makes a great straight man to Barbra Streisand's crazy, comic persona. Streisand is at the height of her abilities playing a part, where she is both sexy, luminance and very funny. One moment she's cooing an old song standard in O'Neal's ear, the next moment she's smashing a pie in the face.Her charisma totally lights up on screen.The only actor, who just about upstages her is comic actress, Madeline Kahn. In this movie, she sets the standard for protraying, the most annoying and shrewish fiance' in film history. With her whining like phrasing she makes even the most innocent dialogue sound hilarious.With each script line, that comes out of her mouth, you just want to roll on the floor laughing. Kahn is pure comic perfection.Also, look for great comic character roles from actors, Kenneth Mars and Austin Pendleton. The DVD to this movie is wonderfully remastered with a good clear picture.Extras include a behind the scenes featurette, a very interesting trailer and scene specific commentary from Barbra, herself. Bogdanovich provides an excellent, feature length commentary, that is extremely interesting. For an evening of great screwball/slapstick comedy, I highly recommend this delightfully, wacky film!