“It’s from Casablanca. I’ve waited my whole life to say it!”
Play It Again, Sam is a rare Woody Allen film that he wrote and starred in but did not direct; it’s only his second such screenplay (http://www.ibtimes.com/8-films-woody-allen-acted-didnt-direct-video-1386755). Herbert Ross directed this film adaption of Allen’s play of the same name. Interestingly, it’s set in San Francisco, not New York or Los Angeles.
Allan Felix (Allen) is a neurotic film critic whose flaky wife (Susan Anspach) just left him. All on his own in their small apartment crammed with his film memorabilia, he’s understandably out of sorts and depressed; being Woody Allen, though, it’s a hundred times worse than anyone else, which makes it funny. His friends Dick (Tony Roberts) and Linda (Diane Keaton), a married couple, encourage him to meet new women, even going so far as setting him up on a date (Jennifer Salt). It’s not working because, well, his neurotic tendencies undermine his efforts—breaking record albums, spilling drinks, knocking down furniture, getting beat up. Not even the ghost of Humphrey Bogart (Jerry Lacy) popping up here and there to offer advice on babes helps. Allan crosses a line when he falls for Linda—and Dick catches a whiff of something going on.
Play It Again, Sam is typical Woody Allen—need I say more? He’s relatably cringeworthy, which is his gift. I loved Linda’s “I love dick” speech and Allen’s date with hot redhead Jennifer (Viva). All the references to Casablanca are fun. The story is a bit predictable, but the characters here keep the film enjoyable. So do the situations, which are just silly enough to remain believable without going too far.