Virgil Starkwell (Woody Allen) is a loser; a prototype Frank Spencer if you will. Everything he touches falls apart and everything he tries quickly ends in unmitigated failure. From an oppressed childhood, Virgil grows into an oppressed and repressed adult. Petty crime becomes habit, but his fortune appears to change when a botched bag-snatch results in him meeting a sweet and gorgeous young woman in a park.
They call him Mellow Cello.
They start dating after he lies to her about his ‘career’ as a cellist for a symphonic orchestra. He manages to keep up the pretence, but his petty crimes get worse until he advances to the bigger league and tries to rob a bank with a pistol and a handwritten note of questionable legibility.
He is sentenced to ten years, and begins a jail term that is sure to be the end of his relationship with Louise (Janet Margolin). However, she sticks by him and after a failed escape or two, he manages to get something right and finds himself a free man after volunteering to be human guinea pig trialing some new cure-all with unknown side effects.
"It's fun to stay at the...hey, where's the rest of the group?"
He returns to Louise and they begin a new life after she falls pregnant with his child. The future should be rosy, but this is a Woody Allen film we are talking about here, so what are the chances?
Take The Money And Run is typically Woody Allen in most regards, from the lead neurotic main character, the basic storyline, and the humour that is quite subtle at times but outrageous and occasionally too slapstick and offbeat for its own good. One or two of the gags are just downright stupid and would be hard pressed to find their way into even the worst of those Hollywood spoof comedies like Flying High and Loaded Weapon. However, there are a few decent laughs in what is essentially a fly-on-the-wall type doco-comedy. At 82 minutes, it is not a long and taxing ask. As a bare-bones release DVD, it is the kind of release that will appeal to die-hard Woody Allen fans but be lucky to earn passing interest from most.
Hmm. There is good and bad to report here and as there is less good than bad, let’s do that first. The 16:9 enhanced 1.85:1 aspect ratio will please those with widescreens but that’s about it in the good ledger really, apart from the lack of a layer change. The transfer process is not really to blame for most of the problems here lie with the original source that is almost certainly some grubby old print left laying around in someone’s attic from the look of it.
The most noticeable thing is the amount of dirt and scratches throughout, closely followed by grain and a somewhat soft and dark look. Colours are hardly vibrant but far from washed out. Bleeding is mostly in check and noise appears not to be an issue. Black levels are fair and solid and shadow detail is sufficient.
The only audio option is the Dolby Digital mono that is about as adequate as one can be. There are no real issues, but no surprises either. There are one or two moments where the audio seems to be very clean and clear (i.e.- dropped out) but as they were not during dialogue, it is hard to say for sure. Either way, everything that needs to be there, is there. The volume, clarity and synchronisation are all fine.
No extras are included.
Take the Money and Run is not the film that Woody Allen virgins are advised to seek out first. You want your first time to be special and while this film has some redeeming qualities, it is far down the list and not likely to respect you in the morning. For that you are advised to check out something more polished such as Annie Hall, Bullets Over Broadway or Manhattan Murder Mystery.