Take the Money and Run

by Matthew Bull

Woody Allen, USA, 1969, 85 minutes

Woody Allen's first film as director-writer-actor is a mock documentary following the criminal career of Virgil Starkweather (Woody Allen) from childhood to incarceration for bank robbery.

Although today Woody Allen is today known more as a director of movies, when Take the Money and Run was made he was primarily a script-writer and stand-up comic. This is very much reflected in the nature of the film, which basically follows the format of many of the Marx Brothers movies, in that it uses the 'plot' as a carrier for a series of sketches and gags. These revolve mainly around Allen's favourite themes of death and women. Some miss the mark, but most work in that brilliant mix of neurotic angst, slapstick and plain funny one-liners that characterise Woody's films and writings. Importantly, it lacks the often-tiring pretentiousness and mental masturbation of some of his later failed attempts at being a humorous Bergman, if such a thing is possible.

Take the Money and Run is not one of Woody's best known movies, and as a film it is no better made than, say, Monty Python's Holy Grail. Many of you reading this may not even have seen it before. But take the effort because this comic treat will at the very least make a winter's evening in Edinburgh far more fun than it otherwise would have been.

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