What’s New Pussycat?

Movie Information

In Brief: When it came out in 1965, Clive Donner's What's New Pussycat? was considered rather distasteful — even vulgar — as well as frantic, unstructured and rather silly. All of this is perhaps true, but it's not necessarily a bad thing. (Not everyone disliked it; Andrew Sarris championed the film in 1965.) It's unlikely a movie like this would even be considered these days — everyone involved would be censured for being politically incorrect, since womanizers can no longer be viewed humorously. In the context of its time, however, it's another matter. The movie itself feels like a piece with the scattershot satire and comedy of that "British Invasion" era. Everything is fair game (suicide attempts are used to comedic effect at least twice, Paula Prentiss plays a character called Liz Bien, etc.), and it's all in fun. It offers you Peter Sellers (in a Beatles wig) and Peter O'Toole, as well as a young Woody Allen in his first film role (he also wrote the screenplay). And, of course, there's the Tom Jones song. Step back 50 years, and see what frightened the horses then.
Genre: Comedy
Director: Clive Donner (Nothing But the Best)
Starring: Peter Sellers, Peter O'Toole, Romy Schneider, Capucine, Paula Prentiss, Woody Allen, Ursula Andress
Rated: NR

The Asheville Film Society will screen What’s New Pussycat? Tuesday, Jan. 5, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville, hosted by Xpress movie critic Ken Hanke.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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5 thoughts on “What’s New Pussycat?

  1. sally sefton

    And of course the song “What’s New Pussycat?” is so deeply entrenched in the minds of some of us, that just the mere mention of this film brings that back into an endless loop circling and singing to us without relief.

    I would love to see this combination of people in a movie. Again. ( Saw it when I was a teen and that memory is vague indeed)

    • Ken Hanke

      I’ll be interested just to see it with an audience, since I’ve only seen it on TV in the privacy of my home — at which time an in-joke or two in Casino Royale (1967) suddenly made more sense. I wonder if the more free-wheeling sensibility of that time will connect with a modern audience.

  2. sally sefton

    I am hoping that we have become more freewheeling in our sensibility, but that is possibly wishful thinking.

    • Ken Hanke

      I fear we have become so afraid of offending that we have become less so.

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