What's New, Pussycat?

(USA, 1965, 108 mins, 35mm)
CAST Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, Woody Allen, Romy Schneider, Capucine, Paula Prentiss, Ursula Andress
Introduced by film scholar and educator Michael van den Bos


Admittedly, Woody’s first produced screenplay did not turn out the way he would have wanted. At 28, the nightclub comedian and movie nut was thrilled to be commissioned to write a script for (and about) Warren Beatty. But the more he wrote the larger his own role became, with less and less for Warren, until the Hollywood lothario lost interest .Instead the project was passed to Peter O’Toole, hot from his Lawrence of Arabia triumph.

But in what we might call a poetic injustice, Woody soon found himself written down in the pecking order when Peter Sellers started improvising, to the point where he turned his supporting role into the star part. Meanwhile producer Charles Feldman also insisted on a bigger role for his current protege ,Capucine.

In short, it’s not a masterpiece. But it is a fascinating time capsule back to the heart of the Swinging Sixties, a bit like Austen Powers without the Bondage. And they’re all so young and beautiful - well, maybe not Allen, but the rest of them - and the Tom Jones theme song remains as infectious as it ever was.