Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Play It Again, Sam - Movie Review

'Play It Again, Sam' was out in 1972 and so we have Woody Allen looking much like Farroq Sheikh would have in our 70s movies. But once again the theme of the movie, as in all Woody Allen movies, is pretty interesting. How does he do it? He truly inspires me to write a script one day.

The main theme is this - what happens to men who normally are quite composed and interesting and intelligent when they meet women? We grew up with a huge Amitabh Bachchan syndrome when all of us tried to behave like Amitabh when we met girls - a perpetual scowl or a sullen response, a deep voice and an air of indifference was our formula. No success of course and rightly so. In fact my friend Vardha who is an eternal romantic, often confesses of his fantasy to sue Amitabh for messing up our romantic lives. But now I find that the story is the same across seven seas. Woody Allen's character is stuck by a bad case of Humphrey Bogart and it is but natural that he has a pathetic romantic life.

Woody Allen plays Alan, a movie critic, obsessed with watching Casablanca and Humphrey Bogart. His wife leaves him soon as the movie begins as she is more outdoors and action type and not the watch movies and sit at home type that Woody is. There is some talk about sexual inadequacies too but that much is to be expected in Woody's movies. (I'd love to see him play a super stud in one movie - a man who is just as he is normally but who has this hidden sexual gift!) His best friend Dick and his wife Linda (Diane Keaton) try to counsel the neurotic and over anxious Alan with other women and find him wrecking each encounter with his filmy notions of how he should behave and (Bogart) and all that. Finally happens that he has an affair with Linda. Just as they are wondering what to do Dick comes over to Alan and confides that he suspects that Linda is having an affair. Sense prevails and Linda and Dick fly off together after a Casablanca kind of a scene at the airport. Throughout the movie we have a Bogart-lookalike giving advise to Alan on how to proceed with the women. In the end Alan discovers that he did not need to be Bogart to be attractive to women - he just had to be himself. Wish we'd seen this movie in our youth.

I love these little hooks and themes that Woody Allen comes up with and how he ties it all up so well, with a twist of irony to the whole thing. Woody Allen plays his neurotic character as only he can, bumbling, falling over, making a complete fool of himself and being so relatable to that part of us. It also shows San Francisco well which is uncommon as Woody sticks to New York mostly. The movie is based on a play written by Allen of the same name. So what's it with Sam, who is he etc? Apparently it's a take off from a dialogue in Cabalanca - 'Play it, Sam'.

Fun and highly watchable.

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