Play It Again Sam: Rewatch

play it again sam

By Alif Majeed.

While watching his initial batch of movies, you see a specific pattern emerging. His neurotic quirks are pretty evident, but it is his trademark Woody Allen appearance that really takes off. Sure, it is not as distinct and defined as Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat, cane, and moustache. But Woody Allen’s messy crusty hair and glasses have become as much part of his personality as has his ticks. And unlike Chaplin, Allen’s look was pretty much part of his actual persona.

It is pretty much in full display in all its glory in Play it Again Sam, a movie that he did not direct but wrote and was based on his hit Broadway show playing around the same his first movie Take the Money and  Run released. The play also marked Diane Keaton’s first collaboration with Woody Allen and was the beginning of their long and illustrious association.



The film is about Allan Felix, who idolizes Humphrey Bogart and recently went through a messy divorce. His feelings of inadequacy also come from his sexual relationship with his ex-wife or lack of it. Also complicating things is his self-pity at how he thinks he will never be able to match up to the suave coolness of Rick, Bogart’s character from Casablanca, a movie he also idolizes.

His best friend Tony and his wife, Dick, and Linda (Tony Roberts and Diane Keaton, reprising their roles from the Broadway play), tries to set him up with multiple other ladies. Eventually, he realizes he has fallen in love with Linda and decides to pursue her. All this complicates things for everyone involved as the movie bizarrely plays out like Casablanca, right down to the climax involving the three and Bogart thrown in for good measure at an airstrip.

The way it manages to draw parallels with Casablanca is pretty amusing. How slavishly it adapts Casablanca might be a hindrance for some, but you can’t help but smile how it manages to draw from the classic so well.

While watching the film, it also surprises you at how straight it plays out. After the relative kookiness of his first two movies, Take the money and run and Bananas, it nice to see a linear film from Allen like this one. It’s conventional structure and straightforward nature also probably came from the original Broadway play.

Though Allen didn’t direct the film, it has his stamp all over it. The dream sequence in Italian where he imagines his friend Tony coming to kill him in an Italian bakery seems so much his own creation and could have come from any of his movies. Also, his constant flights of fancy when he gets nervous wand he gets relationship advice from Humprhey Bogart is textbook Allen.

But calling it a Woody Allen movie is unfair to the movie’s director Herbert Ross. He is a guy who went on to direct many classics and also had a very long and fruitful collaboration with Neil Simon, another legendary writer known more for his comic creations.

My favorite scene in the movie is when the lady Dick and Linda managed to set up for him on a date, comes to his house with them. His attempts at carefully curating books, music, and other props and littering them across his place to make him look suave are hilarious. lt would hit the nerve of anyone who has ever tried to impress someone by pretending to be more appealing and interesting than they are.

To sum up, Play it Again, Sam, is Woody Allen’s beatify ode to Casablanca. In the climax, when Allen repeats Bogart’s famous, “getting on the plane” speech verbatim, Linda gets impressed and says its beautiful, oblivious to the fact that it was a line from a movie. Prompting Allen to admit, “It’s from Casablanca. … I’ve waited my whole life to say it!” It was an actor playing dress up and playing out parallels to his favorite movie. Isn’t that what we all secretly want to do?

While watching his initial batch of movies, you see a specific pattern emerging. His neurotic quirks are pretty evident, but it is his trademark Woody Allen appearance that really takes off. Sure, it is not as distinct and defined as Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat, cane, and mustache. But Woody Allen’s messy crusty hair and glasses have become as much part of his personality as has his ticks. And unlike Chaplin, Allen’s look was pretty much part of his actual persona.

It is pretty much in full display in all its glory in Play it Again Sam, a movie that he did not direct but wrote and was based on his hit Broadway show playing around the same his first movie Take the Money and  Run released. The play also marked Diane Keaton’s first collaboration with Woody Allen and was the beginning of their long and illustrious association.

The film is about Allan Felix, who idolizes Humphrey Bogart and recently went through a messy divorce. His feelings of inadequacy also come from his sexual relationship with his ex-wife or lack of it. Also complicating things is his self-pity at how he thinks he will never be able to match up to the suave coolness of Rick, Bogart’s character from Casablanca, a movie he also idolizes.

His best friend Tony and his wife, Dick, and Linda (Tony Roberts and Diane Keaton, reprising their roles from the Broadway play), tries to set him up with multiple other ladies. Eventually, he realizes he has fallen in love with Linda and decides to pursue her. All this complicates things for everyone involved as the movie bizarrely plays out like Casablanca, right down to the climax involving the three and Bogart thrown in for good measure at an airstrip.

The way it manages to draw parallels with Casablanca is pretty amusing. How slavishly it adapts Casablanca might be a hindrance for some, but you can’t help but smile how it manages to draw from the classic so well.

While watching the film, it also surprises you at how straight it plays out. After the relative kookiness of his first two movies, Take the money and run and Bananas, it nice to see a linear film from Allen like this one. It’s conventional structure and straightforward nature also probably came from the original Broadway play.

Though Allen didn’t direct the film, it has his stamp all over it. The dream sequence in Italian where he imagines his friend Tony coming to kill him in an Italian bakery seems so much his own creation and could have come from any of his movies. Also, his constant flights of fancy when he gets nervous wand he gets relationship advice from HumphreyBogart is textbook Allen.

But calling it a Woody Allen movie is unfair to the movie’s director Herbert Ross. He is a guy who went on to direct many classics and also had a very long and fruitful collaboration with Neil Simon, another legendary writer known more for his comic creations.

My favorite scene in the movie is when the lady Dick and Linda managed to set up for him on a date, comes to his house with them. His attempts at carefully curating books, music, and other props and littering them across his place to make him look suave are hilarious. lt would hit the nerve of anyone who has ever tried to impress someone by pretending to be more appealing and interesting than they are.

To sum up, Play it Again, Sam, is Woody Allen’s beatify ode to Casablanca. In the climax, when Allen repeats Bogart’s famous, “getting on the plane” speech verbatim, Linda gets impressed and says its beautiful, oblivious to the fact that it was a line from a movie. Prompting Allen to admit, “It’s from Casablanca. … I’ve waited my whole life to say it!” It was an actor playing dress up and playing out parallels to his favorite movie. Isn’t that what we all secretly want to do?


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