101 Funniest Screenplays

This screwball comedy seemed an unlikely follow-up for both director Peter Bogdanovich, coming out of The Last Picture Show, and screenwriters David Newman and Robert Benton, who had earned a three-picture deal at Warner Bros. thanks to the success of their script for Bonnie and Clyde. Their co-screenwriter, Buck Henry, already had The Graduate and Catch-22 to his credit. Bogdanovich acknowledged What’s Up, Doc? was an ode to Howard Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby. Barbra Streisand was the film’s infectiously free spirit, invading the life of Ryan O’Neal, playing a straight-laced musicologist attending an academic conference. While much of the film is a love story, there are memorably madcap chase scenes on the city’s rollercoaster streets. What’s Up, Doc? came out during a revolutionary period in Hollywood, the 1970s, but Bogdanovich “borrowed genres and tones from the past because that past seemed, to him, neither dead nor past,” wrote The New Yorker’s Richard Brody.