Directed by Clive Donner
And thus ends my quest to watch every Woody Allen film written or directed by him. (So far.) I still haven’t seen every single movie he’s ever acted in, but there aren’t many of those left and I’ll get to them eventually. I saved this film for last because it was the first film Allen ever worked on, and in my weirdly formed world of OCD-lite, the last film I watched had to either be his most recent film or his first. I ended up going with “first.” Still, I had little hope that I was really going to enjoy this film. Woody has always been outspoken about his distaste for it, and the other two films of his that he has hated (“Casino Royale”, and “What’s Up, Tiger Lilly?”) I found to be rather dull. So really, I sat down to watch this film, daring it to make me like it. After about ten minutes, it sort of did.
What’s hard for me to do is watch a Woody Allen film without separating the script from his voice. Even in his most recent films, in which he no longer acts, I always picture my neurotic best friend, spouting out lines instead of say… Scarlett Johansson. (Believe me, I know that I could spend years of therapy on that thought alone. How anyone, let alone a heterosexual male, would purposely picture a 120 pound neurotic nut, than one of the most beautiful woman in the world is beyond me. And I’m the one doing it!) Anyway, slight tangent now over, it was even harder for me to watch a Woody Allen based screenplay with someone else directing it. I find it highly unlikely that the original screenplay was as comically broad and slapstick filled as the final film ended up being, if only because Allen has always voiced his dislike for that type of comedic styling. The thing is though, with Peter Sellers and Peter O’Toole whom are both fine actors in their own right, the film still manages to find a way to be charming. Is it as funny as “Take the Money and Run” or “Sleeper”? No, but it’s zany and sexy and has a bevy of fantastic one liners that zip around at a manic pace. Over all, the film could have ended up being much, much worse, and even though Mr. Allen will probably always be discouraged at its continued existence, there are a lot worse film debuts out there. Woody got a little bit lucky, especially for a film that’s genesis came purely from the fact that the title was the favoured line that Warren Beatty utilized to pick up women.