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Take the Money and Run / Prends l'oseille et tire-toi [Import]
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Woody Allen's feature-film debut, Take the Money and Run, a mockumentary that combines sight gags, sketchlike scenes, and standup jokes at rat-a-tat speed, looks positively primitive compared to his mature work. Primitive, but awfully funny. Allen plays Virgil Starkwell, a music-loving nebbish who turns to a life of crime at an early age and, undaunted by his utter and complete failure to pull off a single successful robbery, continues his unbroken spree of bungled heists and prison breaks even after he marries and raises a family. Narrator Jackson Beck, whose stentorian voice of authority makes a perfect foil for Starkwell's absurd exploits, lobs one droll quip after another with deadpan seriousness. Though spotty, Allen tosses so many jokes into the mix that it hardly matters and when they hit they are often hilarious: the chain gang posing as cousins to their old-woman hostage ("We're very close," Virgil explains to a dim cop), arguing with a dotty movie director who is supposed to be their cover for a bank robbery, Virgil's escape attempt with a bar of soap. Allen spoofs decades of crime films, everything from I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang to Bonnie and Clyde, but you don't have to know the movies to enjoy this goofy, sometimes clumsy, but quite clever comedy. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Ce film raconte la vie de Virgil Starkwell. Enfant, Virgil s'essaie au violoncelle, mais il l'abandonne pour faire carrière dans le crime, malgré sa petite taille, sa timidité, et ses lunettes constamment cassées par les gros durs. Il braque une banque mais se fait arrêter misérablement et il est envoyé en prison. Il parvient à s'échapper et vit de vols de sacs à mains avant de rencontrer Louise, une blanchisseuse, avec qui il aura un enfant. Mais toujours sans le sou, il tente à nouveau de faire un braquage, n'y arrive pas et se fait renvoyer au bagne. Encore une fois, il s'échappe, attaché par des chaînes à d'autres bagnards. Il se fera définitivement arrêter en essayant de voler un vieux copain d'enfance s'avérant être un agent du FBI.
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He has a difficult childhood, and plays the cello in a marching band (but sitting on a chair and trying to keep up with the others). He begins a life of crime by robbing an armored car, but is quickly caught. In prison, he models a fake gun and tries an unsuccessful escape. Later, in exchange for a pardon, he volunteers for an experimental vaccine, the only side effect is turning him into a rabbi for a few hours. From time to time, his parents are interviewed (wearing Groucho Marx disguises). Finally released, he rents a room. He then begins another life of crime with purse snatching and small robberies.
Intending to steal her purse, Virgil meets a young woman, Louise, who is a laundress, and is smitten. He narrates his nauseous nature when in love. He robs a soda machine for money and goes to dinner on a date with Louise. Now he is in love. Virgil tries to rob a bank - but can't write a legible holdup note, and gets arrested and put back in prison, where he gets visits from Louise. Although she says she will wait for Virgil, he plans an escape. The warden gets wind of the plan, so the escaping group calls it off but forgets to tell Virgil, who tries it alone, and improbably escapes.
Virgil and Louise get married, and of course later Louise gets pregnant. Virgil wants to go straight and tries to get job as insurance agent, but is hired instead as for the mailroom. He is ferreted out by a coworker and is blackmailed. Virgil contemplates murdering her, but is unsucessful in every attempt, including stabbing her with a turkey leg, but finally is accidentally lucky with the exploding candlesticks.
Petty crimes follow in his life on the run.Read more ›
Allen - with some of the funniest lines and sight gags I've ever seen
in a film. It's important to remember that 'mockumentaries' weren't
common when Allen made this, and it was actually seen as quite
experimental in it's own crazy, low budget way.
This isn't the deep, brilliant film-maker of 'Annie Hall', etc, but an
amazingly smart and funny young Allen capturing the spirit of cinema
anarchists like the Marx Brothers.
The only small drawbacks; a sometimes cloying musical score and a
couple of slow sections around the love story. But these are very small
flies in the great ointment.
A minor point - there's a some debate as to whether the correct aspect ratio is 1:66
or 1:85. From what research I could do (as well as old fading memories of seeing the
film in theaters) I think 1:66 is actually correct.
There are various releases floating around in full-screen, 1:66 and 1:85.
Probably not a life or death difference, but worth noting
Like many of Allen's film's this now seems to bizarrely be out of
print. So while it's available used, you might want to grab a copy.
This is Woody establishing his template for later movies, i.e., nebbishy loser, a failure at his chosen occupation, acquires an impossibly beautiful girlfriend, and tries to do right.
The mockumentary style he chooses to utilize for the most part works nicely. At times, though, its tone feels uneven, floating from documentary to narrative fiction and back to documentary. If he had stuck to one style the power of the satire would be much stronger. And now that I think of it, choosing to do an obviously mannered genre parody with your first film is somewhat dubious. It sent him on a path that would lead to the well-meaning but uneven films "Bananas" and "Sleeper". Not till "Love and Death" would he make a film where the parody serves the story rather than the story serving the parody.
While most of the jokes feel forced, there are some truly hilarious proto-Woody moments. The marching band scene (with Woody gamely trying to keep up while tugging along his cello and a chair) knocked me down flat with laughter. And a moment late in the film, with Woody trying to conduct a substantive interview with a rambling subject (Woody keeps saying "Get to the point" from behind the camera), is a most effective moment in terms of parodying the documentary form. But other than these, and few others, I was disappointed by the humour. A running gag, where Woody's glasses repeatedly get stomped on by authority figures, was flat the first time I saw it and got flatter each subsequent time.
This film is definitely at the bottom of my personal list of favourite Woody Allen movies.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I can't stop laughing whenever I remember this movie. Have seen it dubbed in Persian language too and it was even more hilarious. Read morePublished on Dec 5 2008 by Winston
As others have written, this is a hilarious Woody Allen film. However, for DVD fans and film purists, be warned: the original widescreen format has been chopped down to full... Read morePublished on July 18 2004
The counter scene when Allen's character says he is robbing the bank and has a "gub". That is hilarious!! Many more humorous scenes! Read morePublished on July 13 2004 by J. McAndrew
From around this early time, before Allen truly crystallized his peculiar brand of a nebbish neurotic New York man, I had enjoyed Bananas and Sleeper for their sheer creativity and... Read morePublished on July 12 2004 by Nearly Nubile
Simply put, this movie is hilarious. If you like movies with a bunch of ridiculous (and unexpected) scenes to laugh at, as well as hilarious lines to repeat to your friends later... Read morePublished on May 2 2004 by Ian Bowman
Really lousy combination of second-rate physical comedy and tepid jokes that go on way too long. I find Woody Allen more or less repulsive when he acts like the cute little... Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2004 by Hans Reinhardt
This is one of those Woody Allen movies that most people have never seen, yet, in my opinion, is still one of his best. Read morePublished on April 19 2003 by Sheldon
Take The Money & Run is the first film that featured the Woody Allen triple threat of writing, directing and starring. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2002 by P Magnum