PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM (1972) is the screen adaptation of Woody Allen’s stage play that marked his first onscreen pairing with Diane Keaton; Keaton play the neurotic wife of Tony Roberts, while Allen is their single friend, a neurotic movie geek who keeps getting romantic advice from the spirit of Humphrey Bogart (Jerry Lacy). Allen’s first film to be straight narrative rather than sketches (I should really have watched this before Sleeper) and foreshadows a lot of the romantic shticks of Manhattan and Annie Hall. While it follows a familiar romantic arc, I notice that Allen doesn’t actually get the girl (Keaton decides to go back to her husband before Allen’s big renunciation speech). Funny, except for some not-funny-at-all rape jokes in one scene. “I’m going to fill this apartment with women—swingers, nymphomaniacs, dental hygienists!”
For a double bill, I opted for SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955) wherein equally nebbishy Tom Ewell contemplates whether his wife’s summer absence is a good time to hit on upstairs neighbor Marilyn Monroe, while simultaneously editing paperback books, trying to quit smoking, attending psychoanalysis (“Until you can commit a simple act of terror successfully, do not attempt murder.”) and engaging in his own movie-based fantasy sequences (I don’t recognize all the parodies, but they still work). Showing its age in bits like the horrible food in vegetarian restaurants, but I’m always impressed Ewell and director Billy Wilder make this entertaining when there’s an undeniable sleaziness to the story. “Without clothes, there’d be no sickness and no war!”
FAKER by Mike Carey and Jock, is a TPB collection about six college students who wake up with no memory of that wild party they had last night——and then discover that as far as everyone else on campus is concerned, their bosom buddy and loyal confidante Nick doesn’t seem to exist. Starts well, but the ending is too stock a government conspiracy to work for me.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN by Carey and John Bolton has a North London girl discovering she’s half-sidhe, which leads to her becoming embroiled in the battle between Titania and the dark usurper Mab for control of the faerie world. Good, but not anything I haven’t seen before——sidhe in modern society has become a familiar fantasy trope and this isn’t that fresh (though the protagonist’s mother/daughter relationship was very well done).
STOPPING FOR A SPELL is a Diana Wynne Jones collection aimed at slightly younger readers—the first story, “Chair Person” is a very E.Nesbitish piece about an ugly armchair transformed into an even more repellent houseugest; “The Four Grannies” is a so-so piece about two stepsiblings coping with the title relatives; and “Who Got Rid of Angus Flint?” is a Man Who Came to Dinner riff that doesn’t quite work for me (unlike the overbearing auntie of Chair Person, it’s hard to see why Flint wasn’t booted out the first night).