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The bumbling Inspector Clouseau travels to Rome to catch a notorious jewel thief known as "The Phantom" before he conducts his most daring heist yet: a princess' priceless diamond with one slight imperfection, known as "The Pink Panther".
Michael James, a notorious womanizer, desperately wants to be faithful to his fiancée Carole, but runs into serious problems since every woman he meets seems to fall in love with him. His psychoanalyst Dr. Fassbender can't help him either since he's busy courting one of his patients who in turn longs for Michael. A catastrophe appears on the horizon as all the characters check into the Chateau Chantelle hotel for the weekend not knowing of each other's presence.Written by
In the first visit Michael has with Liz, she goes into the bathroom, and while he is contemplating some fuzz pulled from her outfit there's a shadow of a stagehand (probably) briefly crossing in the background. See more »
Watching Peter Sellers playing a lust-crazed German shrink amid gorgeous women, Swinging-Sixties ambiance, and a sparkling Burt Bacharach score should make for a fast-flowing breeze. But herky-jerky direction and a surprisingly amateurish script by first-time filmwriter and actor Woody Allen render "What's New Pussycat" hard to take.
Billed a sex farce when it came out in 1965, and rather ahead of its time in that regard, the film presents us with the singular torment of Michael James (Peter O'Toole), a prisoner of his killer charisma who wants to be faithful to lover Carole (Romy Schneider) but can't say no to the many felines who purr for his attention. His analyst Dr. Fassbender (Sellers) and friend Victor (Allen) watch in jealous rage.
Sellers was just coming off a near-fatal heart attack, and maybe trying too hard to show he still had game. As Fassbender he leaps, shrieks, rolls on the carpet, yet still seems half the man he was in films like "Waltz Of The Toreadors" and "The Millionairess". He's amusing but underrealized with lines that stretch for laughs he doesn't always get. "You're a monster, and a monster in that order," he bellows at his heavy-set wife. Huh?
O'Toole was a sensation at this time from more serious roles; seeing him cut up like this, slamming his skull against doors and slipping off stairs, was a revelation and a marker for later comic turns in better films. Here, he struggles with a role conceived for Warren Beatty, looking almost constipated as one lovely after another drapes herself over him. "Women have always overcome my basic shyness," he explains.
Allen was the new guy here, and for that you almost want to cut him some slack. He could have done worse for a first script, like say "Stardust Memories" or "Hollywood Ending". But watching Woody trying to be funny can be almost as painful as watching him try to be serious. "This can't work," he has one early conquest tell Michael. "I'm 34 and you're 12."
A more central problem than the three mentioned above were two others behind the camera. Director Clive Donner kills some of the funnier bits with lame blocking (an opening featuring Fassbinder and his wife arguing in a series of dizzying zoom shots sets the chaotic tone) and allows O'Toole to be lit so green at times he appears malarial.
Producer Charles K. Feldman seemed more interested in creating "happenings" than films, throwing together talents at random and letting whatever they came up with dictate the final product. In one scene we watch a badly overacting Allen try to kill O'Toole in a sauna, yet the next scene has O'Toole alive and dry in an unrelated group-psychoanalysis scene. I can't write about the ending, not because it would be a spoiler, but because I have no idea what it was about. Neither will you.
There's a handful of witty lines in "Pussycat", sometimes even two in a row. That Bacharach/Hal David music is tremendous listening. Tom Jones scored the hit title song, but the songs "Here I Am" (Dionne Warwick) and "My Little Red Book" (Manfred Mann) are even better, the latter especially when danced to by the gorgeous Paula Prentiss.
Prentiss is the most beautiful woman I've seen in movies - until she opens her mouth. You could say that "Pussycat" suffers from a similar issue, pretty from a distance, annoying close-up. It has so much sex appeal, it's almost angering how casually it disappoints.
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