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Wayback Wednesday: The Owl and the Pussycat (1970)

Have you ever wanted to watch an hour and a half of Barbra Streisand shrieking at you? 

I’m going to be honest. Part of me chose to review The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) because I wanted to take a stab at covering more movies form the 1970s. But a much larger part of me chose to review it because Barbra Streisand’s costumes look fucking fabulous. After watching the movie in its entirety I can confirm that Streisand’s level of visual fabulousness is off the charts. The wardrobe, the hair, the makeup, the nails…she is a 70s DREAM in this movie. Unfortunately, the visuals are about the only enjoyable thing about The Owl and the Pussycat. Again, to be honest, I straight up did not like this movie. In fact, I found it borderline intolerable. If you like this movie, please reach out and explain to me why. 

Credit: / Columbia Pictures

Based on the stage play of the same name, The Owl and the Pussycat follows Doris, a somewhat uneducated model / actress and part-time prostitute who is kicked out of her apartment. She ends up moving in with her neighbour Felix, an intellectual aspiring writer. Though the two are constantly at odds, they eventually begin to admire each other.

I thought about it a lot and honestly, that’s all that really happens in The Owl and the Pussycat. Two people from different walks of life meet, they annoy the shit out of each other and then they fall in love. That’s it. There are no plotlines or greater themes to be enjoyed or analyzed, nor is there a climax or any scenes of any real interest. It’s not even similar to a movie like Barefoot in the Park (1967) – check out my review, here – which might not have the most complex of a plot, but is still wildly entertaining thanks to fantastic writing, winning performances and scenes that either have you laughing out loud or thinking about the ins and outs of relationships. The Owl and the Pussycat possesses none of those qualities. From beginning to end it’s just boring and pointless. 40 minutes in to a 90 minute movie and all that had happened was one argument after another! Watching this movie is like being forced to endure or participate in the longest, most maddening couple fight in the history of the world. 

At one point Doris, played by Streisand, declares, “I talk loud but I don’t shriek.” Um, I beg to differ ma’am. A solid 80 per cent of this movie is Streisand shrieking all of her lines which while I understand is necessary for the character of Doris, doesn’t change the fact that it makes for a headache-inducing performance to sit through. Add in the fact that Doris is considerably homophobic throughout the movie and you have a character that I’m not rooting for at all. For a movie that’s so much about sex, I can’t think of two people with less sexual chemistry than Streisand and George Segal, who plays Felix. Seriously, their’s was one of the most awkward sex scenes I’ve ever seen. 

Streisand and Segal are completely devoid of chemistry, sexual or otherwise and the performances they deliver are so dull and inconsequential. It’s actually amazing how they manage to both be such annoying characters in their own way. Doris is constantly lashing out and squawking and Felix is ridiculously uptight and judgmental. You want to stick a sock in both of their mouths. They really are the worst / most inconsiderate tenants / houseguests in the world as they prove many times throughout The Owl and the Pussycat. Again, I have to take it with a grain of salt because those are the characters so the performances at least have some thought behind them, but good God they’re insufferable. I wanted to mute the movie so many times just to escape them. 

I have a feeling that The Owl and the Pussycat may be more fun to go see as a stage show than it is to watch as a feature film. I suspect that the characters, story and dialogue translate better in the confines of a theatre rather than on a screen. You know what though? I would be down for a new movie adaptation of The Owl and the Pussycat. I mean, it’s not a superhero movie or a reboot of an existing franchise so it probably wouldn’t get made, but this would be a great opportunity for a couple of up-and-coming beloved actors with the proper charm and chemistry to show off their acting skills. Lucas Hedges and Zendaya, perhaps? While I’d want that potential remake to be set in the present day so there aren’t as many negative stigmas about sex work, I selfishly would love for it to be set in the 70s again just for the costumes. Zendaya in full 70s glam? Yes please! 

Have you seen The Owl and the Pussycat?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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