Monday, April 17, 2017

Play It Again, Sam

Directed by Herbert Ross and written and starring Woody Allen which is based on his own play, Play It Again, Sam is the story of a recently-divorced man who is urged by his friends to start dating again as he gets advice from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart. The film is an unusual romantic comedy where a man tries to find love in this strange mixture of fantasy and reality. Also starring Diane Keaton and Tony Roberts. Play It Again, Sam is a witty and delightful film from Herbert Ross.

The film follows a film critic whose wife had just left him as he reluctantly returns to the dating scene by his friends where he finds himself lost as he seeks the advice from the ghost of Humphrey Bogart. It’s a film with a simple story that mixes elements of fantasy as it’s largely set in a real world where this man has trouble wondering why his wife left him and how he’s unable to connect with other women with the exception of his friend Linda (Diane Keaton). Woody Allen’s screenplay explores the conundrum that Allan Felix (Woody Allen) is going through as he isn’t sure about trying to find a new live as Linda and her husband Dick Christie (Tony Roberts) do whatever they can as they try to set him up with other women as many of the results are disastrous. With the workaholic Dick often away, Felix and Linda bond where it is obvious where the script is going yet Allen plays that build very slowly as there is also a sense of conflict in Felix as it relates to Dick who is his best friend.

Herbert Ross’ direction is very straightforward as it is shot largely on location in San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area in California as it play into this culture of film and art. Ross does put in references to some of the films that Humphrey Bogart is in with Casablanca being the most notable as it is Allan’s favorite film. Much of the compositions in the wide and medium shots are simple where Ross knows where to place the actors in a frame as well as know where to put in the comedic moments and make it feel natural. Though there’s a few wide shots to establish some of the locations, Ross uses it to create a fantasy version of sorts of San Francisco as it kind of plays into this idea of what Allan is looking for once he finds who his soul mate is. The ending is a take on the ending of Casablanca but it has a nice twist to it as it play to everything Allan is looking for. Overall, Ross creates a whimsical yet exhilarating comedy about a divorced man trying to get back into the dating scene with the help of Humphrey Bogart’s ghost.

Cinematographer Owen Roizman does excellent work with the film’s cinematography with its emphasis on natural and colorful looks for the daytime interior/exterior scenes along with some artificial touches for scenes set at night. Editor Marion Rothman does nice work with the editing as it is mainly straightforward with some jump-cuts and a few montage-style cuts. Production designer Ed Wittstein and set decorator Doug von Koss do fantastic work with the look of Allan’s home as well as the country home of the Christies’ home. Costume designer Anna Hill Johnstone does terrific work with the costumes from the stylish clothes that Linda wears to the more casual look of the men. The sound work of David Dockendorf and Richard Reitschmann is superb as it is very straightforward that includes a very funny scene involving a record and the record player. The film’s music by Billy Goldenberg is wonderful as its mixture of jazz and classical music play into the comedy and some of the drama that occurs in the film.

The film’s marvelous cast include some notable small roles from Jennifer Salt as a woman Linda sets Allan up for a date that doesn’t go well, Joy Bang as a colleague of Dick that goes out with Allan that also bombs, Susanne Zenor as a girl dancing at a club Allan tries to flirt with, Viva as a woman the Christies that Allan introduces to as it doesn’t go well, Diana Davalia as a woman Allan meets in the museum with some very morbid comments, and Jerry Lacy in a terrific performance as the ghost of Humphrey Bogart. Susan Anspach is wonderful as Allan’s ex-wife Nancy who leaves Allan as she believes he isn’t exciting nor can satisfy her in every way as she is someone wanting adventure.

Tony Roberts is excellent as Dick Christie as a workaholic who is trying to help Allan but has a hard time trying to be with Linda due to the demands of his job. Diane Keaton is amazing as Linda Christie as a woman who is concerned for Allan as she tries to help him find a new love only to cope with her own feelings for him. Finally, there’s Woody Allen in a brilliant performance as Allan Felix as a neurotic film critic who is despondent over his divorce as he tries to move forward as it’s a very comical performance from Allen who tries to act and be cool but also do it in the most awkward and funniest of ways.

Play It Again, Sam is a remarkable film from Herbert Ross and writer Woody Allen. It’s a film that isn’t just a witty romantic comedy that plays upon the expectations of fantasy and wanting to live the fantasy but also deal with the realities of falling in love. In the end, Play It Again, Sam is an incredible film from Herbert Ross.

© thevoid99 2017


s. said...

One of the funniest movies I've seen, I really need to rewatch it some time. I always forget Allen didn't direct this one

thevoid99 said...

@Sati-It's easy to forget that Woody Allen didn't direct this but it should be counted as an Allen film of sorts.

TheVern said...

I heard about this one but have not watched the full version, only scenes. It's cool that a lot of principal actors from Annie Hall including Keaton, Roberts, and Allen are in this.

thevoid99 said...

@TheVern-It is a very funny film as it's better than some of the films Allen has done as a director as it's worth watching.