5.7/10
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What? (1972)

Che? (original title)
R | | Comedy | 3 October 1973 (USA)
During her Italian vacation, a young and beautiful American tourist finds herself as a guest in a coastal villa inhabited by a bunch of odd people.

Director:

Roman Polanski
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcello Mastroianni ... Alex
Sydne Rome ... Nancy
Hugh Griffith ... Joseph Noblart
Romolo Valli ... Giovanni
Guido Alberti Guido Alberti ... Priest
Henning Schlüter Henning Schlüter ... Catone (as Henning Schlueter)
Gianfranco Piacentini Gianfranco Piacentini ... Tony
Christiane Barry Christiane Barry ... Dresser
Dieter Hallervorden ... German #2
Elisabeth Witte Elisabeth Witte ... Nurse
Mogens von Gadow Mogens von Gadow ... German #1 (as Mogen von Gadow)
Carlo Delle Piane ... Young Oaf #1 in Car
Luigi Bonos ... Painter
Livio Galassi Livio Galassi
Carla Mancini
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Storyline

A young American woman (Sydne Rome) traveling through Italy finds herself in a strange Mediterranean villa where nothing seems right. Her visit becomes an absurd, decadent, oversexed version of "Alice in Wonderland", with Marcello Mastroianni as the maddest of mad hatters and Roman Polanski a kinky March hare. Written by Dan Navarro <daneldorado@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The kinkiest caper of the year!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When producer Robert Evans was trying to coax Roman Polanski to direct Chinatown (1974), he found Polanski thoroughly absorbed with this film, to the extent that he had bought a 50% share in it. Evans eventually lured Polanski by saying that whatever "What" made in its opening week, he would pay him as his salary for directing "Chinatown". Polanski readily agreed to this, expecting "What" to do well as he considered it the best thing he had done up to that point. Unluckily for Polanski, "What" only grossed $64 on its first week. See more »

Goofs

Nancy's hands are well manicured throughout the movie, but quite ordinary during close-ups, when she's supposedly playing the piano. See more »

Quotes

Alex: I shot it myself, in Africa.
Nancy: A-a tiger in Africa? Are you sure?
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Connections

Referenced in Memories of a Young Pianist (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

String Quartet Death and the Maiden
By Franz Schubert
Arranged by Claudio Gizzi
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User Reviews

"Do I LOOK Like I'm Joking?"
17 June 2004 | by dwingroveSee all my reviews

If you've ever longed to see Marcello Mastroianni being flogged in a tiger skin, What? is the film for you. He plays Alex, a smarmy ex-pimp who lives in one of those terminally fabulous villas that only seem to exist in Italian movies. He gets his other kicks by dressing up as Napoleon or crushing ping-pong balls with his feet.

Among the villa's other denizens are an arthritic pianist, a clutch of sex maniacs, an American husband and wife who bicker endlessly about time zones, a stone-faced German nurse who reads Nietzsche, a pair of sun-bronzed lesbians and a dying millionaire who expires with a blissful smile on his face - after getting a glimpse of the heroine's private parts. Sounds like a normal weekend round at my house...

Into this dislocated universe steps a wide-eyed, Henry James-ian innocent abroad. Sydne Rome plays a backpacking American hippie chick who escapes from an attempted gang rape on the Italian autostrada. (In their impatience to get at her, the would-be rapists get confused and start raping each other by mistake.) She hitches a ride to the villa in a giant metal cage, only to become the sexual plaything of all and sundry.

What? is one of those few movies to play on the obvious notion that 99% of all pornography is just plain silly - hence unwatchable to any viewer with even an elementary sense of the ridiculous. Its 'parody porn' screenplay reads like an LSD-fueled collaboration between Escher, Borges and Lewis Carroll. Not only is it far and away Roman Polanski's funniest film. It is also, quite possibly, his most stylish.

A well-timed revival of What? might do wonders to rescue Polanski from the Oscar-winning solemnity in which he has lately become mired.


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Details

Country:

Italy | France | West Germany

Language:

English | Italian | French

Release Date:

3 October 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Diary of Forbidden Dreams See more »

Filming Locations:

Italy See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$64
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (VHS)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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