Cert U

Bogdanovich here creates a well-conceived and executed screwball comedy. Four guests at a San Francisco hotel all with identical plaid overnight bags, become embroiled in a comedy of manners and lost luggage. The bags are pursued for their various contents: musical igneous rocks, rocks of the sparkling type, top secret papers and women’s garments. The ensemble cast, including Barbara Streisand, Ryan O’Neal and Madeleine Kahn, sparkles like the mislaid diamonds. “The movie works. It is food at last for we [sic] who hunger for a screwball comedy utterly lacking in redeeming social importance.” Rogerebert.com.

First shown by ABCD FS 40 years ago and screened again to celebrate our anniversary.

Dir: Peter Bogdanovich 94 mins USA 1972

Programme Notes

What’s Up, Doc?
USA 1972 94mins Cert U

In baseball, there’s a pitch called ‘screwball’, perfected in the USA in the 1930s. A screwball delivery is subtle, hard to predict, and illogical. The word came to be applied to film comedies and this one has all those characteristics, despite being made as late as 1972. Unlikely co-incidences are accepted as normal. Four people check into an hotel with identical overnight bags and confusion ensues as the inevitable accidental mix-up causes their owners lose track of which one belongs to whom. There are many unexpected twists and turns before the four end up getting their (more or less) just deserts.

The action takes place in San Francisco, which provides a great backdrop for this wacky farce. Barbra Streisand plays a young free-loader, Judy Maxwell, whose zany activities tend to be ‘accidents waiting to happen’. Streisand takes full advantage of the role to display her considerable talents and Ryan O’Neal does a great job as musicologist Howard Bannister, who provides the romantic tension and is a great foil for Streisand.

“What’s Up, Doc? takes place in a classless homogenised society that television imagines to be at hand here and now … ” Vincent Canby, New York Times
“Barbra Streisand stars as the zany dropout … in this hilarious homage to screwball comedies of the 1930s” Tom Hutchinson, Radio Times

Judy Maxwell – Barbra Streisand
Howard Bannister – Ryan O’Neal
Eunice Burns – Madeline Kahn
Hugh Simon – Kenneth Mars
Frederick Larrabee – Austin Pendleton

Director – Peter Bogdanovich
Producer – Peter Bogdanovich
Screenplay – Buck Henry, David Newman
Cinematography – Laszlo Kovacs
Original Music Artie Butler


“A super evening – let’s have more! Happy New Year!”

“Just wonderfully funny!”

“Still funny on the third viewing – a masterpiece of timing.”

“Super entertainment!”

“Excellent – great fun”

“They don’t make ’em like that any more ….”

“Real comedy! We need more of these.”

“Totally daft but enjoyable”

“Nice and silly! Good entertainment.”

“A jolly romp. Fabulous car and dragon chase sequences, plus great last line.”

“Funniest Christmas film for years!”

“Enjoyable Christmas fare!”

“You can’t help but smile at this cleverly crafted comedy. The real star of he film was a script that packed in plenty of gags at a rapid-fire rate.”

“First saw this in the ’70s at the (then) Regal in Abingdon. Nicely nostalgic to see it again on a big screen.”

“Roll on the next 40 years so we can see it again!”

“Quite well done if you like that sort of thing but showed that Ryan O’Neal is no Cary Grant!”


A:24, B:12, C:1, D:0, E:1 to give 88%