A true film buff's film about a film buff, Allan Felix (Allen), who is obsessed with CASABLANCA. The impish, neurotic Allan patterns his personality after Humphrey Bogart but has nothing of the actor's tough guy image. When Allan's wife (Anspach), leaves him she explains, "You're one of
life's great watchers. I'm not like that, I'm a doer." While the distressed Allan laments over his lack of "cool," he is visited by Bogart (Lacy), who sits in a dark corner of the room, wearing his usual trenchcoat and smoking a cigarette. Bogart gives him advice: "Dames are simple. I never met
one that didn't understand a slap in the mouth or a slug from a forty-five." To boost his spirits Allan's married friends, Linda (Diane Keaton) and Dick (Woody Allen good-luck charm Tony Roberts), try to fix him up with another woman. Their meddling and Allan's attempts to emulate his hero lead
him into many failures and one undesired success in the game of love, but at least our hero gets to play a scene from CASABLANCA at the finale.
Based on Allen's Broadway play (Allen, Roberts, Keaton, and Lacy all appeared in the stage version, which opened on February 12th, 1969, and ran for 453 performances), PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM differs somewhat from Allen's earlier pictures. Allen handed over the directorial reins here to Herbert Ross, a
craftsman, but a director who has no recognizable style of his own. What Ross brings to Allen's play is a sense of control and drama as opposed to the slapstick vignettes of TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN and BANANAS. Still, PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM is clearly Allen's film. (Atypical, however, for an Allen film
is the location. A strike in New York caused filming to move to San Francisco.) Though his character is the typical neurotic Allen hero, he strikes a common chord with film audiences. What Allen hits on in PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM is a cultural phenomenon unique to the movie era--audiences living their
lives as a movie. While not every audience can relate to the New York intellectual idiosyncracies of ANNIE HALL, they can relate on a gut emotional level to an average man idolizing a movie star. For film buffs, Allen has included countless film references (Erich von Stroheim, Francois Truffaut,
Ida Lupino), film posters, and, of course, clips and music from CASABLANCA. Composer Goldenberg borrows heavily from the themes of Max Steiner, which are heard throughout, as is the unforgettable "As Time Goes By" and an Oscar Peterson composition titled "Blues for Allan Felix." Also deserving
special mention is Lacy's flawless portrayal of Bogart, which consistently makes one feel as if Allen somehow got the real Bogart for this film.
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- Released: 1972
- Rating: PG
- Review: A true film buff's film about a film buff, Allan Felix (Allen), who is obsessed with CASABLANCA. The impish, neurotic Allan patterns his personality after Humphrey Bogart but has nothing of the actor's tough guy image. When Allan's wife (Anspach), leaves h… (more)