In Play It Again, Sam a nebbishy film critic is dumped by his wife and begins to imagine his life as a confident womanizer. As a nerdy cinephile, his alter ego just so happens to be the trench-coat wearing, word-slurring tough guy played by Humphrey Bogart in many films. A ghost of Bogart gives Allan, the protagonist, advice on life, relationships, masculinity and bravery.
With the support of two clothes friends, who happen to be married, Alan begins to date again, albeit neurotically. This leads to a series of disastrously funny blind dates in which Allan tries, but fails, to be as cool as Bogie. Ultimately, he realizes friendship and comfort is more important than “image” and “coolness.”
Filmed in 1972, and filled with antiquated references to pay-phone banks, macrame and prescription pills, Play It Again, Sam is still worth several viewings on Netflix. I would rewatch the movie for Diane Keaton’s seventies, twee wardrobe as designed by Anna Hill Johnstone. If you’re a fan of Casablanca, this film is a no-brainer as it almost copies, verbatim, certain scenes directly from the movie. The move also happens to feature the best summary of esoteric art critics, sullen museum goers, and the true meaning of Jackson Pollock. Here’s laughing at you, kid.
A faux red-ribbon bow on a sweater, casablanca and framed hearts print? I’ll take it all. The various sets oscillate between LP hoarder and rattan chic to sophisticated Mies van der Rohe, Claes Oldenburg, San-Friscisco intellectual Zebra print and shag rug interiors!
The film definitely made me pine for vintage movie posters ala the Nickelodeon, golden-era of cinema. There was also a surprising amount of burnt orange, avocado green, tinted glass, shag carpeting, linoleum and wood paneling. Something I could so without in the 21st century are the mismatched patterns from paisleys to abstract flourishes and geometric shapes.