Recently, Boing Boing presented a series of essays about movies that have had a profound effect on our invited essayists. We are extending the series. See all the essays in the Mind Blowing Movies series. — Mark
Mind Blowing Movies: What's New Pussycat?, by Richard Metzger
[Video Link] After reading over the other entries in Boing Boing's Mind Blowing Movies series, I couldn't help feeling a little embarrassed that I was unable to think of even a single film that I felt had truly blown my mind. Works of art, music, weird science, books of philosophy, sure, ideas have blown my mind, but when I try to mentally flip though the catalog of my favorite films, or ones that I quote from the most often, or what have you (Female Trouble, Valley of the Dolls, Putney Swope, Ken Russell's Isadora Duncan: Biggest Dancer in the World, Head, Richard Lester's criminally underrated Petulia) I still wouldn't file any of them as particularly "mind blowing," just as movies that I happen to really, really like.
When Mark sent out the invite to contribute, I confess that I immediately drew a cinematic blank, but there was one film that that didn't necessarily "blow my mind," per se, in the same way that the other participants here have expressed it in their posts, but it did fundamentally alter my mind, or at least it did something to immediately change my perception of the world around me, in the sense that there was a before & after aspect when I watched it. Accordingly my anecdote will be short and sweet.
When I was a 7-year-old kid in 1973, What's New Pussycat? the quintessential sexy 60s comedy "romp," aired on ABC's Movie of the Week and I watched it in the basement of my parent's house on a cheap black and white TV set with a rabbit-ears antenna with balls of tin foil crunched at the tip of each branch. The picture quality was comparable to a security camera. Why I was watching What's New Pussycat? sitting alone in a damp, crappy basement or even interested in this particular film in the first place at that age, I couldn't tell you, but I am guessing I wanted to watch it because I liked the theme song, sung by Tom Jones (I owned the 45rpm on Parrot Records) or else simply because Peter Sellers was in it.
In any case, the pivotal moment for me happens at about 120 minutes into the film when Swiss bombshell Ursula Andress suddenly drops from the sky and parachutes into Peter O'Tootle's convertible. I can vividly recall my eyes growing wider and wider and feeling what you might call a "stirring" in my loins as I stared in utter amazement at the most gorgeous creature I had ever seen in my short life. I was completely astonished and transfixed by how beautiful she was. I had never before seen a woman who looked quite like that and the sight of this blonde goddess strongly implied to me that there was something that I might be missing out on…
It was at that precise moment the proverbial light-bulb went on over my head about what the whole "big deal" with girls must be all about. That such a creature as Ursula Andress existed indicated that there were more of them out there. Suddenly there was meaning in my life and something to aspire to. I made a mental note to move to Switzerland as soon as I grew up.
By the end of the film — which being a comedy made in 1965 only hinted at the things that were going on offscreen — the mechanics of procreation seemed rather obvious to me.
After that brief "Aha!" moment, the world around me started to make a whole lot more sense…
In the clip, Ursula Andress drops from the sky to tempt soon-to-be-married Peter O'Toole in What's New Pussycat?