Written for the stage and coherently opened up for the screen by veteran director Herbert Ross, Play It Again, Sam is closer to a conventional comedy than Woody Allen's more self-contained films, but his smart script and a... more »rchetypal hero-nebbish achieve a special charm aimed squarely at movie buffs. Allen is Allan Felix, a film critic on the rebound after his wife's desertion trying to brave the choppy waters of born-again bachelorhood and struggling to reconcile his celluloid obsessions with the hazards of real-world dating. His apartment is a shrine to Humphrey Bogart, and it's none other than Bogey himself who materializes at strategic moments to counsel Allan on romantic strategy. He gets more corporeal aid from his married friends, Linda (Diane Keaton) and Dick (Tony Roberts), who try to orchestrate prospective matches and reassure him when those chemistry experiments explode. When Allan finds himself falling in love with Linda, the dissonance between fantasy and reality proves both funny and poignant--a precursor to the deeper emotionalism missing from the star's earlier directorial efforts that was soon to inform Allen's most affecting '70s comedies. It's also the start of his onscreen relationship with Keaton, further underscoring Allen's evolution toward a more satisfying contemplation of the friction between head and heart. --Sam Sutherland« less
Very Quotable and very Rewatchable movie. Great Woody
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 04/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Play It Again, Sam', based on a stage play by Woody Alan is high among those movies one cites when you tick off the Woodman's `early, funny' movies. It should probably be noted that this is not a typical Allen movie in that he did not direct, although it is an excellent bridge, with the performances of Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts to his most famous movie, `Annie Hall' and others he did with Keaton around this time.
Just before viewing the DVD of this movie, I watched `Meet the Fockers' and found this very recent film with its stellar cast, to be less funny and more contrived than the little classic `Play It Again, Sam'. Even hours of extras on the Fockers' DVD cannot make up for the almost total lack of rewatchability in the film.
I have not watched `Play It Again, Sam' for some time, although I believe I have probably seen it at least three times before, yet I was still surprised at discovering new things about the movie. For starters, I found at least two pieces of business that I swear were copied directly into scenes of `Animal House'. Since `Animal House' is a great comedy that easily stands on its own merits, I don't begrudge the borrowing. Another observation I had with this movie was how much visual comedy there was going on. None of it was the kind of over the top long scenes done by W. C. Fields, but it definitely contributed a lot to the interest of the movie. A third new observation was the fact that `Play It Again, Sam' begins with a clip from the final scene of `Casablanca' and ends with the characters of `Play It Again, Sam' reenacting that same `Casablanca' scene. This fact stood out so strongly for me this time around since I just got finished seeing exactly the same device used in Allen's `Stardust Memories'. This is yet another case where `Stardust Memories' is quoting from Allen's other pictures. This really makes me wonder how many of Allen's films begin with a clip from some other movie.
The best things about really great movies is that you can find problems with them without that activity's spoiling your appreciation of the movie. In fact, richly produced films simply add to your pleasure by offering an object of analysis and comparison with other movies. I feel absolutely no urge to analyze `Meet the Fockers' other than appreciate the performances of Hoffman and Streisand and wish DeNiro would go back to doing Marty Scorsese gangster movies.
The name of this movie, `Play It Again, Sam', has probably contributed its share to the myth that this is a direct quote from `Casablanca'. As most know, Rick never actually says these four words together in the `Casablanca' script. This is only fitting, because the Bogart character dreamed up by the Allen character behaves like neither Humphrey Bogart nor Rick Blaine, his character in `Casablanca'. Allen's fictional Bogart is a construct of Allen's imagination, possibly based on Bogart in `The Maltese Falcon', but even Sam Spade would probably have more respect for women than the spectral trenchcoat with Bogart's name in `Play It Again, Sam'. My biggest question is whether this skewing of the Bogart persona was intentional and part of the interest of the film, or was he just molding things to fit his premise.
While the movie is not pure Woody, it is a very important part of his body of work and an important early demonstration of how good he was with visual humor.
Now all I have to do is figure out the reason for the business of the Allen character's sliding the two fried eggs from a plate back into a skillet. Seems to be connected in some way to his total inability to cook. "
One of Allen's Best!
Mark Twain | 05/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film at Cal State Northridge with Eric Lax as a special guest. He is the author of Woody Allen: A Biography, as well as bios on Humphrey Bogart and Paul Newman. David Kipen, book critic for the San Francisco Chronicle moderated the program.
In answer to an audience member's question during the Q&A session, Lax said that Woody Allen has never made a bad film. I agree with this comment because I've enjoyed most of Allen's films. The ones I haven't been too fond of have plenty of redeeming qualities in them anyway. Even the heavy-handed Interiors had a lot to recommend it, at least for true movie buffs. Play It Again Sam was one of the funniest and most underrated Woody Allen film I have ever seen.
Based on a play written by Woody Allen in 1968 and directed by Herbert Ross (who also directed film versions of Neil Simon plays back in the 70's), the film concerns a mild-mannered film critic named Allan Felix, played by Allen, who is dumped by his wife (Susan Anspach). What a gorgeous woman like her was doing with a guy like Allan Felix is beyond me, but for some reason, Allen (was Woody playing himself?) tends to pair himself up with a slew of gorgeous females in almost all his films.
Felix's apartment is a shrine to Humphrey Bogart and it is none other than Bogey himself who counsels him in the romance department since his ego is crushed. Felix's best friend Dick (Tony Roberts) and his wife Linda (Diane Keaton) also try to find a woman for him by setting him up on one disastrous date after another. When Felix finds himself falling for Linda, a series of hilarious complications take place as he is guided by Bogey on what to do. This results in a funny yet touching reworking of the Casablanca ending with Linda even donning the Ingrid Bergman hat and Felix giving her the "Maybe Not Today, Maybe Not Tomorrow" speech, after which he replies, "It's from Casablanca. I've been waiting my whole life to say that."
Play It Again Sam was the first screen pairing of Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, who would go on to star in over a handful of films together. All four lead actors, including Tony Roberts and Jerry Lacy, who does a perfect Bogart, were in the stage play together. It is interesting to note that, according to Lax, the actors knew which lines would get the most laughs because they performed the play on stage so often, that they slightly paused before continuing, so moviegoers wouldn't miss out on the next punchline.
This often overlooked film is, in my opinion, one of Woody Allen's most enjoyable comedies. The film has aged well, and the witty one-liners and comical situations are still hilarious. Perhaps the reason this film is hardly ever mentioned in lists of Woody Allen's best is because he didn't direct it, although it has the look and feel of an Allen directed film in every aspect. This was a sophisticated and worthwhile film that made me long for the days when comedies were actually funny.
An oasis of humour
Mark Schuster | Neosho, MO | 10/12/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is perhaps the funniest film of all time, bar none. I had recently become disenchanted with the comedies of today. I found myself watching whole movies, and never even smiling, let alone laughing. Than I happened upon this little known oddity at the video store. I took it home, and laughed in a way that I had never laughed before. It is wonderful to see Woody Allen and Diane Keaton looking so vibrant and full of life! The jokes come fast and furious, but they do not beg the viewer for a response, they just happen. That, in itself, makes it funnier than most comedies of today. Also, there is very little, if any, profanity in this movie. I've noticed that movies of today seem to rely too much on juvenile toilet humor and profanity to provide laughs. There is none of that here. To watch this is to have the senses rejuvinated, and to laugh so hard that your jaws ache. Basically, this is the movie that you can innocently recommend to anyone, and they will love you for it later. Make it a point to see this film!"
Pre-Annie Hall Allen
Erik Bateson | California | 02/15/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is great; some people say thay Allen plays the same person every movie; if that is so, his films still don't fall under the "Youv'e seen one, you've seen them all criteria." Allen has made many films, and almost all of them are original. This one is not Annie Hall or Manhattan, but is worth seeing. It's interesting to see Diane Keaton before Annie Hall, and she was famous. This film is not spectacular, but it is entertaining, and it has some big laughs, especially whaen he tries to drink alcohol, and he spits it out. That reminded me of Annie Hall, when he spits out $2000 of a certain drug. Thank you for taking the time to read my review and feel free to leave me a helpful/not helpful feedback. God Bless America!"
Woody's Best But Where's The Extras?
Pete Delaney | Staten Island, New York | 12/07/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A comedy masterpiece with all of the traditional Woody elements:
slapstick gags, supernatural moments, neurotic career-woman heroine, oblivious husband, great locations, classic dialouge.
BUT - why did PARAMOUNT HOME VIDEO not include the 1972 15 minute "Making of Play It Again Sam" featurette and the 1972 promotional radio show on the DVD?. Let's hope PHV will release a special 30th anniverasry edition with these items next year."