Take the Money and Run (1969): Woody Allen Second Film, Starring Himself and Louise Lasser

A sweet, good-natured, but minor comedy, “Take the Money and Run” was Woody Allen’s second film as a director and the first that he wrote (with MickeyRose), helmed, and starred in.

A loosely structured send-up of crime-gangster movies, this modest enterprise contains some funny lines and witty sight gags, pointing to greater, more ambitious movies that Allen would make in the future.

Allen plays Virgil Starkwell, a compulsive thief in this episodic tale that’s directed in a semi-documentary style and is narrated by Jackson Beck, known as the voice behind “Superman,” the radio show.

My favorite subplot depicts Virgil hiring a has-been filmmaker named Friz (played by Marcel Hillaire) to pretend he is shooting a movie about bank robbery so that Virgial and his band would have a cover for the actual robbery, but as soon as they get there, a rival gang arrives, motivated by the same goals.

Allen integrates, often hilariously, actual new footage (including glimpses of Richard Nixon and Dwight Einsehower).  Familiarity with classic warner films of the era, such as “I Am a Fugitive from a Chain gang” and “The Last Mile”) helps appreciate and enjoy the gags of this self-conscious enerprise.

The romance between Allen’s Virgil and Louise (Janet Margolin) is less engaging or funny as an homage to Claude lelouche’s stylized cult film “A Man and a Woman” (1966), which won the 1966 Best Foreign Language Oscar.

The cast includes Louise Lasser, who was then married to Allen, Janet Margolin, Marcel Hillaire, and Jacquelyn Hyde.

Cast

Virgil Starkwell (Woody Allen)

Louise (Janet Margolin)

Fritz (Marcel Hillaire)

Miss Blaire (Jacquelyn Hyde)

Jake (Lonny Chapman)

Al (Jan Merlin)

Chain Gang Warden (James Anderson)

Fred (Howard Storm)

Vince (Mark Gordon)

Frank (Micil Murphy)

Credits:

Screenplay: Woody Allen and Mickey Rose

Camera; Lester schorr, Fouad Said

Editing: Ralph Rosenblum, James T. Heckert, Ron Kalish, Paul Jordan

Music: Marvin hamlisch

Art direction: Fred Harpman

F/X: A.d. Flowers

Running time: 85 Minutes

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