In a hotel in San Francisco sit four identical tartan (plaid for our American pals) overnight bags. One contains rare rocks that are on their way to a conference of musicologists. One is full of valuable jewellery, one contains top-secret government documents – and one has a change of clothes.
Shy, bespectacled, musicology professor Howard Bannister (Ryan O’Neal) is there with the rocks – and his jealous fiancée Eunice (Madeline Kahn in her film debut) – hoping to get a research grant from rich Mr Larrabee (Austin Pendleton). A thief is there to steal the jewellery, and a spy is there to filch the documents.
Judy Maxwell (Barbra Streisand) is a zany, pushy dropout who is there to cadge a free meal and stays on to further her growing interest in bungling Howard and to become a liability to anyone whose path crosses hers.
All resolves itself after a rip-roaring chase through the streets of San Francisco – involving high ladders, a Chinese dragon, the biggest pane of glass in the world, and a plunge into San Francisco Bay – proving the age-old adage about love conquering all.
What’s Up Doc? was #3 at the box office in the US for 1972 so audiences clearly delighted in director Peter Bogdanovich’s hilarious homage to the screwball comedies of the 1930s (the movie may seem very familiar to fans of Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby).
Barbra sings You’re The Top and As Time Goes By.
Professor Howard Bannister
Mrs Van Hoskins
Harry the Detective