Play It Again, Sam (1972)
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When Allan's wife Nancy leaves him, his best friend Dick (Tony Roberts) and his lovely wife Linda (Diane Keaton) try to fix him up with several eligible pretty young ladies. Very typically for Woody's characters, he is a total failure with them. The only woman he feels comfortable with, he shares the same insecurities and neuroses, the one whose Birthday he remembers and who he desperately wants is Linda, his best friend's wife. "Play It Again, Sam" is a remarkable movie for several reasons and one of them - it was the beginning of a wonderful working (and not only) relationship between Allen and Keaton that would result in the movies "Bananas" (1971), "Sleeper" (1973), "Love and Death" (1975), "Annie Hall" (1977), "Interiors" (1978), "Manhattan" (1979), "Radio Days" (1987), and "Manhattan Murder Mystery" (1993) and will bring them both well deserved fame and Oscars. Made 34 years ago, "Play It Again, Sam" holds up very well and I would call it my favorite earlier Woody's film and the best Woody's film that he has not directed.
First, "Play it Again, Sam" contains not only archival footage from the 1942 classic, but numerous dialogic and other references which would be lost on someone who hasn't seen "Casablanca."
Second, and more important, is that the surprise ending of "Casablanca" is revealed in the *very first scene* of "Play it again, Sam."
Beyond that, "Play it again, Sam" is probably second only to "Annie Hall" among the Woody Allen / Diane Keaton films. Woody fans will enjoy the neurotic, psychosexual ramblings of the central character, which are typical of his movies, as well as the numerous elements of physical comedy, which are not as common in Woody Allen films. And watch for the scene in the art gallery -- it's a classic!
The humour in this film is awesome and also amazingly funny. Scenes that see Woody Allen blunder his way through dates are hilarious, and Allen's dialogue is at its dry and witty peak. The scene in which he tells of a fight he had with two 'hairdressers' being an excellent example of his writing. Allen tends to play the same sort of character in all of his films, and the one here shows him doing that again. This would be a problem, if he weren't so amazingly good at it. As the man festers in his own pathos; we can really believe it, and this gives the film a great sense of believability and also offers up a prime example of Allen acting at his best. The film isn't a complete one-man show, however, as the underrated Tony Roberts, along with Diane Keaton also give grand performances. The movie tributes in the film are many, with most pointing to the great Casablanca - and this is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. On the whole, this is an intelligent, entertaining and hilarious movie from one of cinema's best comedians. Highly recommended!
Personally, I don't care too much for the whole Bogart-as-mentor thing. I spend most of the film cracking up at Woody's clumsy gestures and neurotic nay-sayings. As usual in an Allen film, Keaton gives a sweet, self-effacing performance. Because the film was directed by Herbert Ross, the typical rambling dialogue and back-and-forth editing is toned down a bit, so for an Allen vehicle, the movie feels more mannered and has more of a narrative strength than Woody's other wacky 70's productions. Still, Woody has never made me laugh harder - ever.
One of my favorite scenes is Woody trying to meet an attractive woman at a museum. She turns out to be a little more unhappy than he is but is also very funny in her darkness.
The very best is Woody getting set up on a blind date with Jennifer Salt. His nervousness will stay in your mind long after the movie is over.
"Play It Again, Sam" is one of the best romantic comedies by Woody Allen in the beginning of his successful career. I saw this movie for the first time when I was still discovering Woody Allen and last time I had seen was on VHS on 12 November 2000 and I have just seen it again on a DVD recently released in Brazil. The neurotic Allan is hilarious and his discussions with Linda about neurosis and medicines, and his jitters with his dates are very funny. It is curious also to see the typical New Yorker Woody Allen filming in San Francisco. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Sonhos de um Sedutor" ("Dreams of a Seductor")
Allen didn't direct this (Herbert Ross did) but he wrote it. So it sounds like a Woody Allen film but doesn't LOOK like an Allen film. For one thing it was shot in San Francisco--not New York! It's also somewhat dated in 1970s dialogue and fashion. There's also a running joke involving Roberts and telephones that doesn't work today. Still this is a very good film.
It is an affectionate take-off on "Casablanca" and other old films also. Allen is playing has patented neurotic character but I've always found him funny and his disastrous dates are just great. Also him, Keaton and Roberts always worked well together and it makes their relationship seem very believable. And Jerry Lacy is VERY funny playing Bogart and giving Allen advice.
If you don't like Woody Allen movies this probably won't change your mind. But I found it fast, funny and very entertaining. And the dated 70s touches were actually quite funny. I give this a 8.
The whimsical narrative structure follows Allen's usual style. The characters have also been witnessed in Allen's other films. Allen himself plays his signature neurotic persona rambling on about psychosexual stuff. Tony Roberts does a fine job as Linda's fiancé who's usually absent when Linda needs him. Diane Keaton is outstanding. She looks stunning and her performance is excellently natural. Jerry Lacy does a good job of mimicking Bogart. In addition, I liked the soundtrack and enjoyed the playful cinematography.
This film is classic Allen, a delight to watch. Even though I didn't like 'Casablanca' when I last saw it, 'Play It Again, Sam' makes me want to give it another chance. Perhaps I should.