Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? is a contemporary comedy [from his own original story] in the screwball 1930s style, with absolutely no socially relevant values. This picture is a total smash.
The script and cast are excellent; the direction and comedy staging are outstanding; and there are literally reels of pure, unadulterated and sustained laughs.
Gimmick is a quartet of identical suitcases which of course get into the wrong hands. Barbra Streisand is discovered conning some food out of a hotel, where Ryan O’Neal and fiancee (Madeline Kahn) are attending a musicologists’ convention. There is an unending stream of opening and closing doors, perilous balcony walks, and two terrific chases through San Francisco streets.
The humor derives much from the tradition of Warner Bros. cartoons, with broad visuals amid sophisticated ideas. One of the hilarious car chases is virtually a Road Runner storyboard, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong about that.