Take the Money and Run

(USA, 1969, 85 mins)
CAST Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, Janet Margolin
Classification: PG
Introduced by film scholar and educator Michael van den Bos


The second part in our year-long retrospective, Woody Allen: 4 Seasons brings us to the Spring Collection, and several examples of what Allen himself famously dubbed "the early, funny ones". Take the Money and Run qualifies on both counts: his very first feature as director, it’s an hilarious spoof true crime documentary. Woody plays Virgil Starkwell, public schmuck number one.

Virgil is a flagrant recidivist, despite years of failure in his criminal exploits (even as a child he gets his hand stuck in the gumball machine he’s trying to rob).

As Vincent Canby wrote in the New York Times in 1969, the film is "the cinematic equivalent to one of Allen’s best nightclub monologues, a kind of cowardly epic peopled with shy F.B.I. agents, cons who are wanted for dancing with mailmen, over-analyzing parents and one lady blackmailer who has the soul of a Jewish mother—she likes to feed her victim good, hot meals… a comedy of short takes, the chronicle of the relentless decline of the sort of bank robber who has to get his holdup note initialed by a vice president. It has the texture of a collage—blackout sketches, sight gags, fake cinéma vérité interviews, old newsreel footage, parodies of all sorts of other movies (including The Defiant Ones and Cool Hand Luke) and the kind of pacing—or maybe it’s just momentum—that carries the viewer over the bad gags to good ones."

"Very special, and eccentric, and funny." The New York Times

"Roll in the aisles, hold-your-sides laughter." LA Times