Play It Again, Sam
Cast & Crew
Allan Felix, a San Francisco film critic, watches the final scenes of Casablanca and finds himself inspired by the manliness and selflessness of the character of Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart. Soon, however, he reverts to his typical neuroses and insecurity, and recalls the recent departure of his wife Nancy, who left him to experience a more exciting life. Wondering how to be more self-confident, Allan imagines Bogart sitting in his room, advising him to treat women like dames. Later, Allan is visited by his best friends, overworked businessman Dick Christie and his wife Linda, a model. Although Dick tries to convince Allan that Nancy's exodus means Allan is free to play around, Allan complains that he has no luck with women. As Linda, another neurotic, and Allan commiserate and compare medications, Dick obsessively calls his office to report on his exact whereabouts. Although Dick and Linda love each other, she feels abandoned by his constant work schedule. The next day, Dick suggests a double date, and when Allan insists on a blonde with large breasts, Linda points out that girls who look that way often do not have great minds. As Allan imagines Nancy on the back of motorcycle complaining about him to her new boyfriend, Linda decides to invite her photographer's assistant, Sharon Lake, to dinner. Allan is immediately overwrought with excitement. At home, as Allan worries about the possible outcomes of the evening, Bogart recommends that he remain cool and calm. Allan imagines himself winning over Sharon with his manliness, but by the time of the date, he is verging on hysteria. Desperate to appear cool, Allan repulses Sharon with his bizarre utterances and uncontrollable clumsiness. Although he is convinced that she likes him, at the end of the evening she shuts her door in his face. Over repeated phone calls, he and Linda discuss his chances with women, and she suggests that he date her friend Jennifer. That date is even worse, however, as she calls herself a nymphomaniac but then refuses to allow him to kiss her. Allan and Linda go to the museum, where Linda admires his intensity, which is so unlike Dick. Allan asks out a beautiful girl, undeterred by her announcement that she plans to commit suicide that weekend. Days later, Allan, Dick and Linda take a vacation at the beach. Allan and Linda go to a nightclub, but the gorgeous woman on the dance floor rejects his advances. While Dick attends endless meetings, Linda and Allan enjoy each other's company. She urges Allan to be himself with women, and, knowing it is her favorite animal, he gives her a plastic skunk for her birthday, which she treasures. Dick later reveals to Allan that Linda feels neglected, but that he is too busy to dote on her. Dick sets up Allan with a woman from his office, Julie, and on their date Julie insists on entering a biker bar. There, two rough men harass them and Allan ineffectually attempts to protect his date. Meanwhile, Linda learns that he is on a date, and is surprised to find that she is jealous. When Allan returns, bedraggled and bruised, his comments about the date reduce her to tears of laughter. Back in the city, both Allan and Linda wander their respective homes feeling lonely. One night, Linda comes over, suffering an anxiety attack because Dick is away on a business trip. As they walk in the park, she suggests dinner and movie, and he immediately imagines them kissing. Realizing that he is in love with her but that, as his best friend's wife, she is off-limits, he is torn between lust and guilt. In the grocery store, Allan pictures Bogart encouraging him to come on to Linda while Nancy insists that Dick will beat him up, then hopefully imagines Dick asking him to look after Linda while Dick leaves to live with his new Eskimo lover. At home, he first prepares a romantic meal for Linda, and then, envisioning her screaming as he tries to kiss her, quickly snuffs out the candles. When Linda arrives she has taken Librium and is light-headed. Nervous, Allan tries to talk her in to leaving the apartment, but when she asks if he believes it is possible to love two people at once, he hears Bogart urging him to kiss her. He does not respond quickly enough, and when he tries again later, the kiss is interrupted by a phone call from Dick. Linda, who is becoming drunk, tells Allan she could only cheat on Dick if she were in love, and Bogart reappears to push Allan into making a move. As Allan apprehensively compliments Linda, he imagines Nancy entering and shooting Bogart. Confused, he lunges at Linda, who pulls away and rushes out. Allan is berating himself when she comes back in and kisses him. They make love, and the next morning discuss how to tell Dick. Allan brings Linda home then walks back to his apartment, feeling uncharacteristically cocky and gregarious. Buying Linda a music box, he runs into Nancy in a store and handles the meeting with aplomb. Later, he frets about how Dick will take the news, imagining him having three different responses: first understanding, then killing himself, then killing Allan. Dick is waiting outside Allan's apartment, and there confides that he is afraid Linda is having an affair. Seeing his friend's distress and repentance, Allan calls Linda to instruct her not to leave him, but she is already telling Dick that their marriage is over. When Dick leaves for the airport in response, Linda follows in a cab and Allan rushes after them. In his mind, his cab driver is Bogart, who demonstrates how to let a "dame" down easily, then declares he is proud of Allan for his selflessness. At the airport, the three get to the gate at the same time. Allan tells Linda they must call it off, but she has already reached the same conclusion, and thanks him for helping her realize she still loves Dick. Thrilled finally to have a chance to say the words, he recites the lines from the parting scene of Casablanca , in which Rick tells Ilsa that she will regret not following Victor onto his plane, ending with "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life." Allan then reassures Dick that although he tried to seduce Linda, she rebuffed him. As Dick and Linda walk off into the fog, Allan is joined by Bogart. Allan has finally realized that he can attract a woman by being himself, and so bids farewell to Bogart, who says admiringly, "Here's looking at you, kid."
Patricia D. Abbot
Frank Capra Jr.
Stanley R. Dufford
Arthur P. Jacobs
Anna Hill Johnstone
Roger M. Rothstein
Patrizia Von Brandenstein
Doug Von Koss
Play It Again, Sam
Set in San Francisco, the story centers around the attempts of a well-meaning married couple, Linda (Diane Keaton) and Dick (Tony Roberts), to find a suitable mate - or at least set up a non-disastrous date - for the dumped and lonely Woody. Every effort, of course, ends up a mess. The only woman he's comfortable with is Linda, and as they are forced together more and more by her workaholic husband's neglect, they begin to fall for each other. Egged on by the ghost of Bogie, they begin an affair, and like the romantic ideal he always imagined in his movie-dream world, Woody makes a great and noble sacrifice for the sake of Linda and Dick's marriage, played out on the tarmac in a near-exact duplicate of the closing scene of Casablanca. Life imitates art in a bittersweet ending for all concerned.
This is the first time audiences got to see Allen and Keaton together on film. It was the beginning of an off-screen relationship that lasted only a few years but resulted in an ideal movie team that would co-star in seven more feature films together, from Sleeper (1973) to Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993). In between, of course, there was Keaton's Academy Award-winning performance as the title character of Allen's Annie Hall (1977) - which may not be the totally factual account of their relationship, but did that matter to the audiences who believed that it was? The two initially paired up while working on the stage version of Play It Again, Sam, where they also became good friends with Tony Roberts. Allen directed Roberts in five movies after this, including A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982), the beginning of Allen's long on-and-off-screen relationship with Mia Farrow.
Although this stays in the memory as a Woody Allen film, he did not actually direct it, even though he had already made three movies of his own - What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), Take the Money and Run (1969), and Bananas (1971). "I would never want to direct a play into a movie," Allen said in an interview with Cinema in March 1972. "I would only be interested in working on original projects for the screen. I was already at work on [Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, 1972], and I didn't want to spend a year doing a project that I had done on Broadway." Instead, he adapted the play in about 10 days ("It was so easy to do") with the help of director Herb Ross, who Allen found ideal for the job. He hoped that with Ross at the helm, he would get "a nice, solid, funny commercial picture, and hopefully entice a broader audience for me than I get with my own films." That's exactly what happened. Saturday Review found the actor "never so droll or so touching under his own direction," and critical praise for Keaton gave her career another boost after her appearance in The Godfather (1972). It made Allen a star with mass-audience appeal for the first time and helped him financially - his 10 percent of the gross brought him more than $1 million in profits.
Director Herbert Ross began his career as a dancer and choreographer, working for the American Ballet Theater while in his 20s, then choreographing Hollywood films beginning in the mid-1950s, with Carmen Jones (1954) and later Dr. Dolittle (1967) and Funny Girl (1968). He directed two of the biggest hits of 1977, The Goodbye Girl and The Turning Point, a ballet movie that earned him Oscar nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. The Goodbye Girl, which also got a Best Picture nod, was the second film in his frequent association with writer Neil Simon.
Producers: Charles H. Joffe, Arthur P. Jacobs, Frank Capra, Jr.
Director: Herbert Ross
Screenplay: Woody Allen, based on his play
Cinematography: Owen Roizman
Editing: Marion Rothman
Production Design: Ed Wittstein
Original Music: Billy Goldenberg
Cast: Woody Allen (Allan), Diane Keaton (Linda), Tony Roberts (Dick), Jerry Lacy (Humphrey Bogart), Susan Anspach (Nancy), Jennifer Salt (Sharon), Joy Bang (Julie), Viva (Jennifer).
C-86m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Rob Nixon
Play It Again, Sam
Sorry I had to slap you around, but you got hysterical when I said, "No more."- Allan
He was always very fussy.- Dick
Yes, but look at the results.- Allan
Yes, you never went out.- Dick
Somewheres in life you got turned around; it's HER job to smell good for YOU.- Bogart
My lawyer will call your lawyer.- Nancy
I don't have a lawyer. Have him call my doctor.- Allan
That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollack, isn't it?- Allan
Yes, it is.- Museum Girl
What does it say to you?- Allan
It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of Man forced to live in a barren, Godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation, forming a useless bleak straitjacket in a black absurd cosmos.- Museum Girl
What are you doing Saturday night?- Allan
Throughout the film, "Allan Felix" imagines himself in conversations with Humphrey Bogart, played by Jerry Lacy, and resembling the character of "Rick Blaine" from Bogart's 1943 Warner Bros. picture Casablanca. Play It Again, Sam, which begins with the final scene from Casablanca, makes references to the movie throughout. The film takes its title from a popular quotation, "Play it again, Sam," which became a cultural phenomenon, even though it never was spoken in those exact words in the original film. In Casablanca, Dooley Wilson, who played "Sam," sang the song "As Time Goes By." That song is heard in Play It Again, Sam, and Wilson is listed in the onscreen credits as the singer. Allan imagines scenes from his life playing out as film parodies; for example, when he thinks about breaking up with "Linda Christie," he fantasizes about it as if it were a scene from a film noir. At another point, he imagines "Dick Christie" killing himself like the husband in A Star Is Born (see below). Some of Allan's dialogue is heard as voice-over narration spoken by Woody Allen.
Play It Again, Sam was based on the Broadway play of the same name, which Allen wrote and starred in. The play, which was co-produced by Charles Joffe, the film's executive producer, also starred Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Mari Fletcher and Lacy, all of whom recreated their roles in the film version. It was during the play that Allen first met Keaton, with whom he became romantically involved. After the end of that relationship, the two enjoyed a lifelong friendship and worked together numerous times throughout their careers. Play It Again, Sam marked their first film together.
In August 1968 Daily Variety announced that Twentieth Century-Fox had already bought the film rights to the play, which did not open on Broadway until February 1969. Hollywood Reporter reported on August 21, 1968 that Arthur P. Jacobs' production company, Apjac Productions, had bought the property along with Fox, for $4.5 million. At that point, Allen was mentioned as a possible writer and star of the film, but a June 1971 Hollywood Reporter article stated that Allen was not set to repeat his stage role. Allen declared in a modern interview that he was not considered to star in the film version until after the success of his film Bananas (1971, ). Play It Again, Sam is the third of a small number of films in which Allen appeared but did not direct.
Jack Lieber was announced as the picture's screenwriter in a May 1970 Hollywood Reporter news item, but in a February 1971 Daily Variety article stated that Lieber had been fired in September 1970. He sued Fox for $782,000 in damages and remaining payments. The disposition of the suit has not been determined.
The June 1971 Hollywood Reporter article noted that Jacobs was at that point set to produce Play It Again, Sam with Paramount instead of Fox and mentioned Charles Grodin as a co-writer. Although a August 19, 1971 Hollywood Reporter news item listed New York as the sole shooting location, as noted in contemporary sources, the production was moved to San Francisco due to problems with the motion picture industry's negotiations with the New York unions. Press materials list specific Bay Area locations, including Sausalito, the San Francisco Museum of Art, Golden Gate Park and the San Francisco International Airport. Although an October 1971 Daily Variety news item stated that Jessica Mitford and Barnaby Conrad would play themselves, they did not appear in the final film. Modern sources add Tom Bullock to the cast. Reviews were generally laudatory. The New York Times reviewer called Allen "the premiere comic intelligence at work in America today."
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972
Re-released in Paris July 31, 1991.
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972