What's Up Doc?, written by Buck Henry with David Newman and Robert Benton, is director Peter Bogdanovich's affectionate nod to screwball comedies, particularly the Howard Hawk's classic Bringing Up Baby. The film contains a Dramatica grand argument story and a storyform identical to Bringing Up Baby.
Dr. Howard Bannister "as in sliding down the" is the main character. An unassuming and shy musicologist, he is preoccupied with his work (mc domain-mind). Oblivious to all but scientific research (mc problem-logic), Howard allows his shrill and highly efficient fiancée, Eunice (mc critical flaw-choice), to orchestrate his every movement (mc approach-be-er).
In San Francisco for a music convention, Howard is hoping (unique ability) to obtain (objective story goal) a $20,000 grant bestowed by the Larrabee Foundation. Upon arrival, Howard bumps into Judy (motor mouth) Maxwell (influence character), a mischievous "tidal wave" heedless of the wreckage (human and otherwise) she leaves in her wake. Judy sets her cap for Howard (relationship story catalyst-commitment), despite his request to "go away and just leave me alone." (mc response-control)
The Congress of America Musicologists is held at the Hotel Bristol. In between university studies (ic thematic issue-delay), Judy selects the hotel as her temporary abode-finagling her stay without a reservation or the means to pay for it (ic domain-universe).
Judy masquerades as Howard's fiancée (rs story benchmark-being) at a dinner party hosted by Larrabee. Howard is aghast (rs problem-support)--Larrabee is charmed (os solution-feeling):
She's a delight . . . this girl of yours is fun. F.U.N. And if you win that grant, well, you can consider (os response) it her victory as well as your own. Do you follow me?
I certainly do (male mental sex).
Thus manipulated (rs domain-psychology), Howard rationalizes (rs thematic issue) his dismissal of the real Eunice: "I never saw her before in my life." (os catalyst-self-interest)
Four identical plaid valises (limit-optionlock) complicate the objective story plot. One holds top-secret government papers; Mrs. Van Hoskins'--priceless jewels; Howard's--geological rocks pertinent to his thesis; Judy's--slinky lingerie. The inevitable mix-up provides much of the physical (os domain-physics) comedy, including Howard's hotel room catching fire (mc symptom-uncontrolled), and a car chase involving a Chinese dragon, Lombard Street, and the San Francisco Bay.
The jabbering odd lot of characters (a hotel detective who bungles a burgle, a pompous, plagiarizing musicologist, the FBI, innocent bystanders, et cetera), is brought before an exasperated judge:
Now ordinarily I would threaten you with contempt (os thematic issue-approach). But in this case, and I think the Supreme Court will back me up on this, I am seriously considering (os response) setting up a torture chamber! Now, I want this whole, ridiculous story told by one person.
...It all started when I bumped my head in the taxicab on the way in from the airport (story driver-action)... When I went to the drugstore to get something for a headache, the druggist tried to charge me for a radio because she [Judy] said her husband would pay for it, but I didn't of course...Anyway, she ripped my jacket, and when Eunice came along...Eunice is my fiancée.
You have a wife and a fiancée?
...Let's just skip over this part and move on.
Well anyway, that night at the banquet she was there again (rs symptom-reconsider).
...Who was there, your wife or your fiancée?
Neither...The one who isn't either. Everyone was calling her Burnsey...That's short for Burns, that's Eunice's last name.
...I think I want to skip over this part, too.
Well the next day, today, Mr. Larrabee asked me to come to his house with my rocks and to bring Eunice, or rather Burnsey, the one he thinks is Eunice (rs benchmark-being). Is that clear?
No, but it's consistent.
...Well it gets kind of complicated...he [points one way] came in and tried to get my case, and then he [points another way] came in and tried to get his case, and then they [points to thugs] came in and tried to get all the cases, and then the shooting started (os catalyst-self-interest).
The matter is finally sorted out (os signpost 4-understanding), and after a few false stops and starts (mc growth), Howard receives the grant (outcome-success). Eunice remains behind with Larrabee, and Howard happily (mc resolve-change) discovers Judy sitting behind him on the airplane to Iowa.
What's up Doc?
Did you happen to know I love you (mc solution-feeling)?
Yeah (ic resolve-steadfast).
Howard and Judy kiss (mc judgment-good) and "That's all folks!"