Play It Again, Sam (1972) – Herbert Ross

I’ve never been a fan of Woody Allen, so I was reticent to settle in to watch Herbert Ross’ adaptation of Allen’s own play, which he also penned the screenplay for, and stars in.

Still, it is the next title on the What Else to Watch list in DK Canada’s The Movie Book following its recommendation of Casablanca. So I dug in.

Allen plays Allan, a film critic obsessed with Casablanca. He is struggling to get over being dumped by his wife, Nancy (Susan Anspach), and with the help of two friends Dick (Tony Roberts) and Linda (Diane Keaton), and his love of all things Bogey (Jerry Lacy) who appears to him offering advice, he’s going to try dating.

It’s obvious from the very beginning that Linda and Allan should be together, she laughs at his jokes, and he understands all her neuroses. But the film gets buried in some half-boiled jokes, and some admittedly funny physical comedy, and of course, it wouldn’t have the ending Allen wanted if they got together.

I’ve never seen the appeal of Allen’s comedy style, everything just seems inane. I can only take so much of the ‘neurotic character’ type before it just seems like too much, and this one pushes it right from the beginning.

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While the film does pay some delightful homage to classic films, and the ending wants to play out as a riff on Casablanca, I just couldn’t get into it. Put simply Allen alienates me.

There are some fun things in this film, and some of the dialogue is sharp, but other sequences don’t border on the offensive, they dance all over it and establish themselves as kings.

And while I can separate art from artist, I wasn’t even sure I wanted Allan (or Allen) to have a happy ending in this film, and letting him get away with a Casablanca ending is a bit infuriating. He doesn’t quite deserve such a classic ending.

Sure his character gets to realise that when it comes to dating, and meeting women he just needs to be himself, but it still bothers me. Someone else should have played the role.

Wow. This one got me a little fired up, huh?

I knew going into The Movie Book that they all weren’t going to be winners, and I really didn’t expect this to be one, but I was willing to be surprised.

I wasn’t.

But don’t take my word for it, check out the other titles and find a new or classic movie to love (or hate) thanks to DK Book’s The Movie Book.

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