“Take the Money and Run” (1969)
“Take the Money and Run”, Woody Allen’s directorial debut, is a parody of the crime profile documentary, and as such is not a particularly challenging nor original vehicle for a fledgling director, but within its own limited aspirations it is often amusing with moments of genuine inventiveness that manage to surprise the viewer as to just how silly many of the conventions of the gangster films actually are when the visceral immediacy of heightened melodrama is removed. That being said, much of the material may be familiar to those conversant with Allen’s stand-up comedy, but the recycled jokes are not provided with sufficiently clever visual embellishment that might compensate for the loss of what was most valuable in their initial incarnation: Woody Allen’s voice, that dryly risible whininess affecting an absurdist self-mockery. Unfortunately, in “Take the Money and Run”, Allen’s line readings come across as heavy handed, with his comedian’s skill in tone and rhythm undone by the supplanting of his own persona to that of a fictional personality who is not particularly well developed, a rather serious flaw in a film in which the entire point is an insightful biographical profile (albeit a humorous one) of his character.
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