I have a deep love and
affection for the films that emerged from the first era of Woody Allen's career.
Probably my favorite of the era is Bananas, one of the most
non-apologetically silly films ever committed to film, but I cannot sing praises
enough for What's Up Tiger Lily, Allen's redubbed Japanese spy picture
that seems to get more dated, more ridiculous, and more hilarious every time I
watch it. Fans of Allen's later work might be surprised at the less- (actually
non-) contemplative, more slapsticky nature of these movies; you won't find the
textured and nuanced filmmaking put on display in, say, Manhattan,
Annie Hall, or Crimes and Misdemeanors. Movies like
Sleeper, Love and Death, and Everything You Always Wanted To Know
went straight for the yuks. And for
the most part, they succeeded.
Take The Money And Run was Allen's
first real foray behind the lens in 1969 (although Tiger Lily was his
first feature-film directorial credit), and it contains much of the same
silliness he'd come to refine up through Love and Death. Allen stars
as... well his usual screen persona, really. He plays Virgil Starkwell, a
would-be bank robber earmarked by his own stammering incompetence. The movie is
shot documentary-style, featuring an off-screen narrator interviewing people
from Virgil's past, while different vignettes play out on-screen.
Allen's Virgil Starkwell is pretty much the same character as Fielding
Mellish from Bananas, Miles Munroe from Sleeper, and even
Boris Grushenko from Love and Death. It's the same stammering,
put-upon, emotionally harangued character that Allen's pinpoint comic timing has
perfected over decades of comedic performances. But here the film seems to be
less cohesive and a little more scatterbrained than it needs. There are some
definite laughs here: the results of a prison laboratory experiment that
temporarily turns Starkwell into a rabbi is making me gigglesnort even as I type
this sentence. But the film seems a little too chaotic and jumbled for its own
good. Furthermore, Janet Margolin as the leading lady in the film is a tad weak.
I kept pining for Louise Lasser or Diane Keaton, two lovely ladies who seemed to
be able to keep up with Allen's patented schtick. There are some big laughs, but
they are a bit more scattered and less frequent than in later movies.
Still, Take The Money And Run
is worth a view for Allen fans. Unfortunately, this DVD is
not worth anyone's time. The disc is saddled with a full-frame transfer that
eschews the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. So you can pretty
much give this DVD a solid pass.
Take The Money
is presented in a full-frame aspect ratio
of 1.31, and, being that the transfer has been modified from its original AR,
this drops the video rating
full star. Since this disc has been previously released in widescreen,
one can only wonder why the rerelease has been so hideously marred. Still,
the picture looks fairly decent. The picture is somewhat sharp and nicely detailed,
and colors are nicely rendered. There is some minor print noise evident
and evident grain structure, but nothing too excessive, especially given the age of
the film. Still, given that this isn't an OAR release, I cannot in good
conscious say this is a good transfer.
The audio is presented in monaural Dolby Digital
There's nothing to write
home about here. The audio is adequate and serves the movie well,
but the quality of the audio is a bit
thin and shrill at times. The orchestrations seem a little flat
and non-impressive, but overall there's nothing too detrimental here for a thirty-five
year old film.
There are no extras on this disc.
Not one of Woody Allen's better works, Take The Money And Run still manages to
generate some laughs. Unfortunately, this DVD generates nothing but shrugged
indifference. A non-OAR transfer and lack of bonus features pretty much relegate
this disc to a "must-miss" status. I'd recommend a rental, but not of this
particular DVD; go find the one with the widescreen transfer instead. End