Play It Again, Sam


Year 1972

Woody Allen as  Allan
Diane Keaton as Linda
Tony Roberts   as Dick
Jerry Lacy as Bogart
Diana Davila as Museum Girl
 
Director - Herbert Ross  
Play Author   - Woody Allen
Screenwriter   - Woody Allen

Compared to so many of the other movies on this site, Play It Again, Sam probably seems out of place. I mean there are no monsters nor any action sequences in it. It also stars the little pervert Woody Allen.

That doesn't mean that there's not a lot to recommend it. It's funny, for starters. Woody Allen plays a character that is actually what every man fears that he is. Deep down inside, every man is afraid that he's a clumsy, pretentious, goof. Woody Allen is there to say, "No, you're not. How do I know? Because here's what one looks like and you're not it."

It's also very real with regards to dating, although the adventures in the film are at the extreme edges of what could occur. The supporting actors are excellent. It's got Bogart references galore. (Allen's character imagines Bogart giving him advice.) And although written by Allen, it's not directed by him. So, it's very subtle.

Up until this movie, Woody Allen had directed some pretty in-your-face farces like Take the Money and Run and Bananas which, although mildly entertaining, were not things worth rushing out and catching at their premiers. In fact, I thought that these two movies in particular were particularly dumb. If the Three Stooges suddenly had IQ boosts, they'd have just been smart Three Stooges. Woody Allen was nothing more than a smart Stooge.

Then he wrote this play, Play It Again, Sam, and after months of being tweaked on-stage, it became a screenplay and Herbert Ross directed it. And did a heck of a job, by the way.

There's one other good thing about this movie. It has high chick flick potential but can still be enjoyed by a guy. You might even enjoy it enough to seek out other Woody Allen films. Be careful! The Purple Rose of Cairo isn't bad and I kind of liked The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. Heck, even Hannah and Her Sisters had its moments. But stay away from tripe like Another Woman and non-guy balloon animals (all hot air in a thin wrapping) like Interiors.

But that's not what this page is about. This page is about Play It Again, Sam. If the line rings a bell, it's because it's from Casablanca. (The greatest movie ever made, in my humble opinion.) Well, it's sort of from Casablanca. In fact it's the one line everyone thinks is from Casablanca but was never uttered in the movie. Bogart said, "You played it for her, now play it for me," to Sam his pianist partner. He even said, "Play it, Sam." But he never said, "Play it again, Sam." Still, some people think he did, so using it as a movie title sets up the connection.

The connection is that the recently divorced nebbish character Allan (Woody Allen) wants to be like Bogart. He wants to be cool and in command like Bogey. He wants to have the dames like Bogey. But, he's Woody Allen trying to get lucky with whatever woman will have him.

Getting him through his period of adjustment are his two friends Dick (a successful real estate tycoon) and Linda (a successful New York model). You may ask yourself why two well-off and socially respected people like Dick and Linda want to hang around with Allan, muchless help him get a girlfriend. I know I did. But, if they didn't have the joint altruistic streak, then Allan wouldn't be able to end up falling in love with Linda.

The humor in the movie mostly comes from Allan's failed attempts to woo women. On a dance floor, Allan wants to meet a blond dancing next to him, but he's shy and having a hard enough time keeping a beat. Finally he talks to her and says, "One, two. One, two." When prompted to say something more meaningful he tells the blond, "Three, four. Three, four." Of course, the blond tells him to, "Get lost, creep."

He meets a girl at a museum and asks her what she's doing Saturday. "Committing suicide." So, he asks her what she's doing Friday.

Allan doesn't have all of the lines, either. He's with a girl and the Bogart character tells him to get closer. "How close?" asks Allan. Bogart tells him, "The length of your lips."

There are some sight gags, like Allan getting blown around by his hair dryer.

After this of course, Woody Allen did a similar movie called Annie Hall which garnered him praise and awards. But, this earlier film has more heart. When I saw Play It Again, Sam, I didn't know what to expect. In the end, I was charmed by its lack of pretension.

It's not a masterpiece and it's a little dated, but the humor holds up even if the clothing doesn't. No nudity, some blasphemy, and very high chick flick potential.


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