What’s New, Pussycat? (1965)

What’s New, Pussycat? (1965)

“I have an intense need to be loved by many men — many times.”

A man (Peter O’Toole) found irresistibly attractive by nearly every woman he meets seeks help from a psychiatrist (Peter Sellers) in order to settle down and marry his girlfriend (Romy Schneider) — but O’Toole quickly finds himself sexually involved with another of Sellers’ patients (Capucine), as well as a suicidal stripper (Paula Prentiss) and eventually a bikini-clad skydiver (Ursula Andress). Meanwhile, O’Toole’s nebbishy friend (Woody Allen) falls for Schneider but is unable to seduce her, and Sellers continues his fractious relationship with his portly wife (Eddra Gale).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Capucine Films
  • Comedy
  • Infidelity
  • Paula Prentiss Films
  • Peter O’Toole Films
  • Peter Sellers Films
  • Psychotherapy
  • Sexuality
  • Ursula Andress Films
  • Womanizers
  • Woody Allen Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “we can be thankful” screenwriter Woody Allen “changed directions” after writing this “outrageous sex farce”, which remains simply “tiresome, sexist, grating fluff”. He argues that Peter O’Toole “had no comic timing back then”:

and that “no one is funny except Prentiss”.

I’m in agreement with Peary that this is a wearisome and dated film, with few authentic chuckles. Because clueless Schneider should stop hoping for O’Toole to change (he won’t/can’t):

… and simply get far, far away from him, it’s difficult to know who to root for here. Meanwhile, Sellers’ “long-haired and horny Viennese psychiatrist” is truly insufferable:

… and Allen merely enacts the first of many similar roles as an insecure short man hoping to score with beautiful chicks.

You can skip this one.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Colorful sets and cinematography

Must See?
Nope; you can skip this one.


One thought on “What’s New, Pussycat? (1965)

  1. Not must-see.

    One of the things my dad did semi-regularly in his role as father was to take us kids to the drive-in. So that’s how I saw this at age 10. Maybe dad thought it would be a wacky comedy like ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ (something else we saw at the drive-in) but I don’t recall him ever sharing his thoughts on ‘WNP’. 😉

    Wikipedia tells us that Warren Beatty thought up the idea for the film and that Woody Allen was hired to write the project. It seems Beatty screwed himself out of being in the film and was replaced by O’Toole. (Beatty didn’t entirely give up on the idea and would eventually concoct his own version, with ‘Shampoo’).

    ‘WNP starts off ok – and there’s a funny line here and there – but it progressively goes out-of-control, plodding along as it builds to a chaotic climax suitable for farce but not all that successful or funny in its execution. The final scenes are particularly clumsy.

    It’s a strange feeling seeing such a high-profile cast thinking the film is witty and madcap when it’s mostly… desperate. … Still, it made a whole bunch of money at the box office (not that that usually means anything – except to the producers).

    As an aside and unlike Peary, I don’t think Prentiss stands out as being funny. Not that she couldn’t be – Prentiss possesses a natural, engaging and sexy persona that remained insufficiently tapped throughout her career. But her role here is badly written and sadly under-developed (like just about everything else in the film).

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