PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM
Review by Michael Jacobson
Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Jerry Lacy
Director: Herbert Ross
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Length: 85 Minutes
Release Date: October 23, 2001
are you doing Saturday night?”
about Friday night?”
often wondered if Woody Allen ever regretted not directing Play it Again, Sam
himself. Not that Herbert Ross
did such a bad job, mind you, only that Allen’s screenplay, based on his
successful play, would have fit comfortably into the comedy-fantasy style he
would become famous for a few years later with Annie Hall and The
Purple Rose of Cairo.
1972 picture marked his first screen pairing with Diane Keaton, who, like Allen,
reprised her role from the original New York play.
Their blossoming chemistry is apparent, as is Keaton’s talent as “a
natural comedienne”, as Allen would later describe her.
plays Allan, arguably the most neurotic character he’s ever portrayed in a
career full of them. He’s a 29
year old writer for a film magazine who’s quite unlucky in love.
His wife of two years has just divorced him.
“I don’t find you fun. I
feel you suffocate me. I don’t
feel any rapport with you, and I don’t dig you physically,” she tells him.
“Don’t take it personal.”
does his best to fight off his depression.
“I’ll get broads up here like you wouldn’t believe,” he declares.
“Swingers, freaks, nymphomaniacs, dental hygienists…”
But he clearly needs a little outside help, which comes in two forms:
his best friend Dick (Roberts) with his wife Linda (Keaton), who begin
arranging an unsuccessful series of blind dates for him, and none other than
Humphrey Bogart (Lacy) himself, who occasionally shows up in Allen’s mind (and
apartment) with trenchcoat, cigarette, and advice. “Dames are simple,” he intones.
“I never met one who didn’t understand a good slap in the mouth or a
slug from a .45.” (His words, not
problem relaxing and just being himself around new women is something he
doesn’t have in front of Linda, who starts spending more and more time with
him as Dick becomes mired down in business.
Eventually, to Allan’s surprise, he realize he’s falling in love with
his best friend’s wife. Bogey
approves, but he doesn’t, leading to one of the funniest fantastic seduction
scenes of all time.
Ross keeps the fantasy elements to a minimum here…clearly, the parts with
Bogart have to stay what they are, but he re-arranged Woody’s original script
to alter other scenes. On stage,
characters from Allan’s past or imagination would just stroll out, talk to
him, and exit. Here, Ross feels the
need to keep a literal sense, using actual flashbacks or taking imagined scenes
to actual locations. I’m not sure
such choices were necessary, but at least they give the picture more of a
film-like sense, rather than the restricted sense of a simple play.
far as writing goes, this is one of the Woodman’s funniest offerings.
The script is filled with memorable lines and exchanges and an ultimately
sweet spirit about a love triangle and sacrifice…kind of the lighter side of Casablanca,
whose classic ending scene is actually the beginning (and to a certain
degree, the ending) of the film.
it Again, Sam is
simply a modest comic charmer with plenty of laughs and some terrifically
whimsical ideas. Here’s looking
at you, Woody!
TRIVIA: The title is taken
from the most famous non-existent line in movie history, one always attributed
to Bogart in Casablanca, but in reality, never once spoken by him!
is a quality anamorphic offering from Paramount, especially for an older film.
The print itself is quite clean, and colors render quite well, with rich,
natural tones and no bleeding. Images
are generally sharp and detailed throughout, and quality from darker to lighter
settings doesn’t differ much. I
noticed no undue grain or break-up, and no digital artifacts of any kind. A good effort.
is standard fare for a mono soundtrack…perfectly good, but not exceptionally
praiseworthy. Dialogue is clearly
presented throughout, and given the nature of the film, that’s the only mark
from which to judge it by.