This was part of a series of reviews of the ASUW Film series back in the '70's. Except for some punctuation, I haven't changed anything from the way it was presented, giving the kid I was back in the '70's a break. Any stray thoughts and updates I've included with the inevitable asterisked post-scripts.
The best Allen movie is still "Play it Again, Sam"
Broadcast November 4th and 5th, 1976
"Love and Death" would prove to be the last of what Allen cheekily labeled "his earlier, funny ones" in "Stadust Memories." At the time this review was written, Allen was polishing the edit of what was at that time called "Anhedonia," which would become the Best Picture Oscar-winning "Annie Hall," and Allen would never go back to making his anachronistic "easy-laughs" kind of film, and started taking the craft a lot more seriously. "Love and Death" was Allen's "Long Goodbye" to that style of film-making.
Actually, "Love and Death" was his transition film, a bridge between those two styles--for example, his classically framed "lions-roar" that he ripped from Eisenstein's "Potemkin." His camera set-ups began to take on the spare look of an Ingmar Bergman film (he also took the Death figure from "The Seventh Seal"). The script was a mess--an amalgram of Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy and "Sleeper," but it was funny stuff, and a lot less episodic than "Bananas," or "Everything You Wanted to Know about Sex****" One dismisses the craft of comedy in film at one's own peril, because there are enough well-shot comedies that can't eke out a laugh to save their box-office lives. If one is looking at the photography more than enjoying the jokes is that anhedonia?
So, I was wrong here, but not as wrong as I would be (for that, see tomorrow), and Allen would leave the blandly Ross-directed "Play it Again, Sam" (which is a bit offensive now with its "rape" jokes) behind, with such classics as "Annie Hall," Manhattan," Hannah and Her Sisters," and "Crimes and Misdemeanors," and a lot of gems along the way. Every economically-made five or six films or so, Allen will make a great film. That's a fine batting average in the Biz.
** I guess I forgot the scene where the hot-dog vendor is yelling "Red Hots!" on the battle-field.
***Crap! Of course, they can work together!