What's Up, Tiger Lily? (Woody Allen / U.S., 1966):

The gag is that dubbing is its own surreal art, thus "the definitive spy picture" out of Japan and into the New York improv workshop, "aided and abetted" by Woody Allen. Taniguchi's Kagi no Kagi provides the raw material, the soundtrack overlaid on it is a benshi's vaudeville turn or, simply, the schnook's revenge on dashing jocks. Double-crosses and cheesecake comprise the intrigue, agent Moscowitz is on the case: "Nothing much to report, I was almost shot and killed before the opening credits." Prison breaks and gambling ships, cobra pets and Peter Lorre rasps for henchmen, the bombshells from You Only Live Twice as Suki Yaki and Teri Yaki. Hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise figure in the McGuffin of McGuffins, evil beards and mustaches fight over it. "I'm dying! Call my rabbi." Razing the genre is a job for Suzuki, Allen prefers to piece his Alphaville lightly out of movie-star impressions and Yiddish snaps. (In the most disjunctive joke, Jones' Duck Amuck is called into play for a bit of silhouette puppetry in the projection room.) Sight and sound at goofy odds is the crux of the experiment, an orgasmic moan replaces the tied-up heroine's shriek of terror and the villain's leering contemplation of a line of hostesses culminates with the inevitable cry of "Mom!" The microfilm in the hairpin ("I don't see anything, just some cooties"), "two Wongs" and a pinch of ventriloquism, all that plus fragrant padding with The Lovin' Spoonful. The word defeats the image with Allen, or does it?—the muse a-go-go slinks out of her dress next to the closing credits, "I promised I'd put her in the movie... somewhere." Mystery Science Theater 3000 takes it from there.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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