In Russia, Boris Grushenko is in love with his pseudo-intellectual cousin Sonja, who loves him since he too is a pseudo-intellectual, but she is not in love with him. Instead she is in love with his brother Ivan. But as Ivan doesn't seem to return her affections, she is determined to marry someone - anyone - except Boris. If that person isn't the perfect husband, then she has to find a suitable lover in addition. Boris' pursuit of Sonja has to take a back seat in his life when he, a pacifist and coward, is forced to join the Russian Army to battle Napoleon's forces which have just invaded Austria. Despite Sonja not being in the picture while he's away at war, Boris' thoughts do not stray totally from women. Although they take these two divergent paths in their lives, those paths cross once again as they, together, both try to find the perfect spouse and lover, and try to assassinate Napoleon.Written by
Debut Woody Allen film cast by longtime friend and New York casting director Juliet Taylor who performed casting duties on every Allen film until her retirement in 2017. See more »
During boot camp, the line of soldiers draw their swords and charge down the field. When they charge back towards Boris and the camera, one of the solder trips and falls down. See more »
How I got into this predicament I'll never know. Absolutely incredible. To be executed for a crime I never committed. Of course, isn't all mankind in the same boat? Isn't all mankind ultimately executed for a crime it never committed? The difference is that all men go eventually, but I go six o'clock tomorrow morning. I was supposed to go at five o'clock but I have a smart lawyer. Got leniency.
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Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev is listed in the credits as "S. Prokofiev," just the way he would have been listed in the credits of a Russian film. See more »
The MGM DVD release deletes the pre-title Prokofiev overture. See more »
The last of Woody's uneven (but still hilarious) comedies
"Love and Death" is one of my favourite Woody Allen films, right up there with "Manhattan," "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Deconstructing Harry." Sure, the jokes are scattershot and don't always work, but when they do the film is a gut-buster. ("A tremendous amount of wheat!") Parodying everything from Russian literature to foreign films (especially those of his beloved Ingmar Bergman), it's also one of Allen's most overtly philosophical films with characters breaking into syllogisms and formal arguments at the most unlikely moments. Students of philosophy should get a kick out of it.
That said, it is accessible to just about anybody. Almost nobody does fish-out-of-water comedy as well as Woody Allen (see also "Bananas" and "Sleeper"), and Diane Keaton shines as usual as the promiscuous object of his desire. And look for Jessica Harper in a small role as the cousin who rattles off a convoluted list of romantic entanglements worthy of Chekhov.
This was the last step of Allen's formative period. After this, his films would get a lot more focused.
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