Archive for Play it Again Sam

Euphoria #47: I love the rain

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , on February 13, 2008 by dcairns

Nominate your favourite moments of moving picture happiness, and I will SULLY THEM FOREVER by posting them in my terrible blog. 

Ford Buchanan, member of a rival trivia quiz team — my BITTEREST ENEMY — suggested this example of very nervous euphoria, and I have consented to let it appear before you. See how egalitarian we are here?

‘The date scene in ‘Play It Again Sam’, where a tense Woody Allen lays out his (shop-bought) running medal, throws a record across the room, says, “I love the rain; it washes memories from the streets” and so on.’

Rather than go into the usual but about how Woody Allen isn’t as good as he was, or debating how good he was when he was, I want to focus on that flying discus. Allen was definitely good at visual gags, back in the day. He didn’t do them very often, but SLEEPER has a high concentration, and you can find quite a few in BANANAS and LOVE AND DEATH. ZELIG has a few memorable scary-surreal images. MANHATTAN has just one vis-gag, but it’s a beauty.

Boating in Central Park. Woody runs his fingers languidly in the lake. They emerge coated with black slime.

What I admire in the flying L.P. and the slimy fingers is that the gags are not only funny (to me, anyhow) but apt — they suit the Allen persona brilliantly. I understand why Allen moved away from these kind of jokes, because you can’t get away with too much of that in an avowedly “serious” comedy like MANHATTAN, and most of the other later films. But when he’s deliberately made more light-weight fare, W.A. hasn’t returned to the slapstick mode, and this seems an awful shame, since hardly anybody can DO slapstick nowadays, and Woody not only CAN, but he has a distinctive persona to do it WITH.

And yes, I  know Herbert Ross directed this film, but I can’t think of anything to say about Herbert Ross.