(director/writer: Herbert Ross; screenwriter: based on the play by Woody Allen/Woody Allen; cinematographer: Owen Roizman; editor: Marion Rothman; music: Billy Goldenberg; cast: Woody Allen (Allan), Diane Keaton (Linda Christie), Tony Roberts (Dick Christie), Jerry Lacy (Humphrey Bogart), Susan Anspach (Nancy), Jennifer Salt (Sharon), Joy Bang (Julie), Viva (Jennifer); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Charles H. Joffe/Arthur P. Jacobs; Paramount Home Entertainment; 1972)
Vintage Woody Allen.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Vintage Woody Allen. Herbert Ross (“The Turning Point”/”The Goodbye Girl“/”The Sunshine Boys”) directs this pleasingly comical adaptation of Woody Allen’s 1969 hit Broadway play about Woody playing a neurotic San Francisco based film critic and film buff who is shy and awkward with women. Woody handles the screenplay and stars as the self-deprecating Allan Felix, who is devastated that his wife of a few years, Nancy (Susan Anspach), decides to divorce him because he’s a drag. Consoled by his self-absorbed business wheeler-dealer best friend Dick Christie (Tony Roberts) and his caring wife Linda (Diane Keaton), who fix him up on a number of blind dates that all go awry because Allan is a nervous wreck. Feeling he needs love advice, Allan brings up the ghost of Bogie (Jerry Lacy) to act as his alter ego andclue him into the cool way of romancing the broads.Allan flubs on every date, but hits the soft spot in Linda’s heart and romances her while her workaholic inattentive hubby is away on a business trip and she acts as his handler as he dates. Allan’s fascination with Casablanca (1942) reaches its apex in the film’s closing scene at the foggy airport, when the film buff gets to say to Linda and Dick the noble self-sacrificing farewell lines Bogie said to Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid.

There were a number of hysterically funny scenes that include Allan’s first blind date where he tries to be suave to impress his date Sharon (Jennifer Salt) and ends up flipping an Oscar Peterson record out of its album cover to smash against the wall and the scene where he takes out Julie (Joy Bang) on a blind date, who works in Dick’s office, and she insists they go to a seedy biker bar to “get high and watch the weirdos”–which results in the biker thugs stealing his date and beating Allan up.

Allan’s idealistic romantic notions are based on the movies, as he lives his real-life as if it was a fantasy. The on-going joke is the contrasting of the ineffective Allen’s angst-ridden nebbish character with the opposite sex and the smooth tough guy image of Humphrey Bogart’s macho lover.

Woody Allen in Play It Again, Sam (1972)