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What’s Up Doc?: Howard Bannister (Ryan O'Neal) is an up-tight academic studying the musicality of rocks. He arrives with his overbearing fiancée Eunice Burns (Madeline Kahn) in San Francisco for a music convention and is immediately hit on by flirtatious crackpot Judy Maxwell (Barbra Streisand). Their identical looking travel bags get mixed up in the hotel with two identical others, and a chase to find the right bag - containing diamonds and jewellery, top-secret government files, Judy's clothes and Howard's rocks – ensues through the streets of San Francisco. Can Howard and Judy find love in this mix up of screwball proportions?

Up The Sandbox: A young New Yorker (Streisand) dreams up fantastic adventures to escape her mundane life as housewife and mother.

The Main Event: A perfume magnate (Streisand) is robbed penniless by her accountant and tries to recoup her fortune by managing the only thing she’s got left: a washed up boxer.

Nuts: A high class prostitute (Streisand) murders a client in self defence; her parents try to help by attempting to decalre her mentally incompetent but she resists so the truth can come out at the trial.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
What’s Up Doc? Will there be a mini-revolution in old-fashioned Hollywood screwball comedies like this? Recent films like Down with Love and Intolerable Cruelty seem to indicate as much. And that's a great thing - romance movies have been so dumbed down in the past decade or two, with the likes of Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks and Billy Crystal starring in one sappy, sanitised confection after another. As they say, they don't make'em like they used to, and What's Up Doc? is a screwball classic. Witness romance queen Barbra Streisand before she BABS, when she was a comedic actress who didn't cost millions in maintenance fees alone. Barbra was BIG in the 70s, making hits like this lively comedy caper and the women's lib comedy Up the Sandbox (1972) before re-teaming with O'Neal in the camp boxing romance The Main Event (1979), Streisand would later show her gift for drama as well in the intense courtroom piece Nuts (1987).

These four movies comprise Warner Brother's Barbra Streisand Collection (not to be confused with Columbia's Streisand Collection. Of the four, What's Up Doc? is easily the best comedy. The chase through the hilly streets of San Francisco is a classic, complete with workmen crossing the street holding a big sheet of glass. And while Barbra is radiant as the perky but lonely musician, O'Neal is a little dull as a leading man. Give him a war movie or a biopic - but Babs seems too much for him to handle.

The box set DVD is stylishly packaged with a retro look and plenty of extras for Streisand fans to chew on. What's Up Doc? has a screen specific commentary with the starlet herself, showing four scenes in which she admits she was scared about doing her own stunts, and that she still doesn't understand the plot but was "just following director's orders". Luckily, Streisand insisted on a good director for her film, Peter Bogdanovich, hiring him after seeing his Last Picture Show. The commentary by Bogdanovich is perhaps more worthwhile.

He reveals that he had been asked to do a drama with Babs but insisted on a comedy, preferably one with "a stuffy professor and daffy dame". The acclaimed auteur also says he had to hire two cars because he couldn't get stunt cars, making sure he had insurance before returning them wrecked. Funniest of all, however, is when he suggested the suitably stuffy O'Neal meet Cary Grant for comic tips, though Grant's only suggestion was "wear silk underpants".

The short behind-the-scenes featurette Screwball Comedies...Remember Them?
shows Bogdanovich's desire to make an homage to classic screwball comedies such as Bringing Up Baby. The rather long (3.30) trailer rounds out this "slap dash of old Hollywood" starring San Francisco in its "maiden comedy effort." A nicely presented effort all round, and one Barbra fans will surely buy.

Published December 11, 2003

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(US, 1972 - 1987)

CAST: 1 What’s Up Doc: Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal, Madeline Kahn, Kenneth Mars, Austin Pendleton, Randy Quaid. 2 Up The Sandbox: Barbra Streisand, David Selby. 3 The Main Event: Barbra Streisand, Ryan O'Neal. 4 Nuts: Barbra Streisand, Richard Dreyfuss, Karl Malden, Eli Wallach, James Whitmore, Leslie Nielsen, Maureen Stapleton

DIRECTOR: 1 Peter Bogdanovich; 2 Irvin Kirshner; 3 Howard Zieff; 4 Martin Ritt

RUNNING TIME: What’s Up Doc 94 mins; Up The Sandbox 97 mins; The Main Event 112 mins; Nuts 116 min

PRESENTATION: all films 16 : 9; English and French with English, French and Spanish subtitles

SPECIAL FEATURES: What’s Up Doc?: new, scene specific commentary by Barbra Streisand, commentary by Director Peter Bogdanovich; Screwball Comedies ... Remember Them? (1972), Theatrical Trailer, Awards. Up The Sandbox: commentary by Barbra Streisand; commentary by director Irvin Kirshner, The Moviemakers (1972). The Main Event: commentary by Barbra Streisand; Getting in shape of The Main event (1979). Nuts: commentary by Barbra Streisand

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: December 3, 2003

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