What’s Up Doc? (1972)
I’m slowly being converted to the work of Barbara Streisand who already by the time of What’s Up Doc? (1972) has proved her worth in film. Turning her hand to the classic genre of Screwball Comedy something that was believed to really of had its days. Here Peter Bogdanovich is taken his audience on a journey into cinema nostalgia with a great team of actors, led also by Ryan O’Neal who along with Streisand steal the show.
When what should be a routine night at the Bristol Hotel in San-Francisco, becomes so much more than that with four guests arriving with matching Plaid bags things are bound to get confusing. Even more so when they are all staying on the 17th floor.
The focus is on Howard Bannister (O’Neal) who arrives with his fiancee Eunice Burns (Madeline Kahn), a larger than life woman who has her partners life planned down to the first handshake at the convention they are both invited to. Whilst a cheeky young woman Judy Maxwell (Streisand) who has her own ideas of what should happen puts herself in the picture. Along with a series of other guests who arrive with plaid red bags. Before the fun really begins in this fast-paced comedy.
At times I felt there was a longing to return to the genre of the 1930’s which had its time before darker films took their place. I soon settled into the chain of events and just rolled with the events as they unfolded. Spending most of our time going from one room to another, as multiple plots unfold, all tightly woven together by macguffin’s which eventually increases the set-pieces of action together and all the characters that had all been kept in their own worlds before a collision of hilarity ensues before us.
The start of what was a reactionary genre in the 1970’s in the wake of the far darker authority questioning films of the decade. An antidote to all the seriousness was needed and soon followed up in the form of the Mel Brooks comedies that changed the form of comedy forever, turning cinema in on its self, to question its conventions and push what comedy can do in the form of spoofs. What’s Up Doc? is a celebration of an era, updated for an audience who wants to escape the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the political scandals of the time to see another Cary Grant comedy, with fresh faces all around so a new audience can enjoy what once was.
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