Thursday, April 7, 2011

Take the money and run

Written by, directed by, and starring Woody Allen, Take the money and run (1969) is a short (85 minutes) comedy. It is his first movie, and the first of a long series of excellent films.

In a documentary-mode we follow Virgil Starkwell, a petty criminal and a loser, as he attempts bank robbery after bank robbery, and alternates between prison and new attempts at getting rich, the latter often resulting in the former.

And it is working well – extremely hilarious.


Virgil: After fifteen minutes I wanted to marry her, and after half an hour I completely gave up the idea of stealing her purse.


Louise: He is always very depressed. I think that if he'd been a successful criminal, he would have felt better. You know, he never made the 'ten most wanted' list. It's very unfair voting; it's who you know.


Bank Teller #1: Does this look like "gub" or "gun"?

Bank Teller #2: Gun. See? But what does "abt" mean?

Virgil: It's "act". A-C-T. Act natural. Please put fifty thousand dollars into this bag and act natural.

Bank Teller #1: Oh, I see. This is a holdup?


My favourite scene is here:


At some point he works in a chain gang and plans his escape – I really thought it was inspired from Cool Hand Luke, released two years before – I tend to think so as the scene with the warden really reminded me of the “failure to communicate” scene.

At some point he gets out of prison by volunteering for a new drug trial, which may have been a source of inspiration for A Clockwork Orange  but then again just a thought.

Overall, it is a succession of gags, the scenes where all the prisoner are bound together by chains is hilarious, the two bank robberies are fantastic, the escape with the fake soap pistol is brilliant, and the ending is just incredible. It is, to me, an early version of the series of cop movies parody The Naked Gun  with Leslie Nielsen .

The expression “take the money and run” has also become a classic, and all in all, I believe this movie is a definite reference. To watch absolutely.

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