TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN, 1969
Cast: Woody Allen, Janet Margolin, Marcel Hillaire, Jacquelyn Hyde, and James Anders
A mockumentary that follows petty criminal Virgil Starkwell (Allen) his early life in crime, criminal spree, marriage and birth of his child, and eventual capture.
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At this point in his long career, Woody Allen has established himself as one of Americaís most celebrated and talented directors. It seems as if every year, Woody comes out with a new film, all with his signature style and comedy wit that has become identified with the acclaimed director. Take the Money and Run is the first attempt for Woody to use a documentary like style in his films, although he claims that he onely perfected that look later in his films.
Virgil Starkwell aspires to be one of the best criminals in history, only problem is heís not good at his current occupation. During a bank robbery, he hands a note to the teller letting him know that itís a robbery. He doesnít pull out a gun, does shout or draw attention to himself, he simply hands a note. Itís a great moment because the conversation the two have is absolutely inane and part of the charm that is evident in many of Allenís films, particularly seen in his characters.
Over time, Virgil meets a nice girl, Louise (Margolin), one he tried to rob, and eventually the two marry. But they go through marital problems as Allen life of crime becomes a problem leading to his capture the police. The film then shifts to his time in prison, also providing some comedic moments. However, the film seems less about plot and more about a series jokes, and slapstick humor.
Thereís really no story here. The film is funny, sure, but not really compelling in a sense that it draws you in. A few jokes here and there, such as the bank robbery through a note, are funny and memorable. The film almost serves as an appetizer to what the rest of Allenís movies were going to resemble since this is his first film as a director and writer.
In all his films, Allen plays, well, Allen. His neurotic character has become something of a pop culture joke played throughout the movies he stars in. However the charm and appeal of Allen is lost in the film because itís honestly not that funny. There are plenty of funny moments that donít really add up to anything.
Take the Money and Run is not bad. Just not that funny. The plot doesnít go anywhere, mostly made up of moments in Allenís life that are chronicled in a series of back and forth parts of his life. There should have been more done with his relationship with Louise, particularly when their running in the park in slow motion. I kept expecting something funny to happen, like one of them falling or bumping into each other. But nothing really happens, and sums up the movie as far as Iím concerned.
But maybe Iím being too harsh on Allen. Since it his first film, there are plenty of mistakes that are likely to be made, and Take the Money and Run has a few. However, the films succeeding this are more worth your time, partly because they were funnier, but also because their real movies, not a compilation of skits.