Take the Money and Run (1969)

85 mins | Comedy | 18 August 1969

Director:

Woody Allen

Producer:

Charles H. Joffe

Cinematographers:

Lester Shorr, Fouad Said

Production Designer:

Fred Harpman

Production Company:

Heywood--Hillary Productions
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HISTORY

Take the Money and Run marked Woody Allen’s motion picture directorial debut, although he had previously written and associate-produced What’s Up Tiger Lily? (1966, see entry), a re-working of a Japanese film that only credited the original Japanese director, but which Allen had overseen.
       A 2 Jul 1965 DV item announced the project would be Allen’s second of a three-picture deal with producer Charles K. Feldman. At the time, Allen wanted Peter Ustinov to star, and, according to a 19 Dec 1965 NYT article, he envisioned himself directing but had also discussed the project with Jerry Lewis, whom he considered “a most talented comedy director.” Allen described the project as “autobiographical” in a 24 Dec 1967 NYT interview, recalling his tendency to shoplift and “hustle in crap games” as a youth, and also his early obsession with gangsters and true crime stories.
       According to the 15 Oct 1965 DV, Allen initially planned to film in black-and-white in Chicago, IL. Two months later, however, he was quoted in the 19 Dec 1965 NYT as saying, “We’ll film it here in New York, where the story is set.” The 10 Nov 1965 Var cited a budget of $600,000-$700,000, and indicated that Take the Money and Run would be the first under a fifteen-picture deal being negotiated between Charles K. Feldman’s Famous Artists and United Artists (UA). Allen’s managers, Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe, were set to co-produce with Allen and Feldman, according to the 19 Dec 1965 NYT, and a late spring 1966 start of production was anticipated.
       Over ... More Less

Take the Money and Run marked Woody Allen’s motion picture directorial debut, although he had previously written and associate-produced What’s Up Tiger Lily? (1966, see entry), a re-working of a Japanese film that only credited the original Japanese director, but which Allen had overseen.
       A 2 Jul 1965 DV item announced the project would be Allen’s second of a three-picture deal with producer Charles K. Feldman. At the time, Allen wanted Peter Ustinov to star, and, according to a 19 Dec 1965 NYT article, he envisioned himself directing but had also discussed the project with Jerry Lewis, whom he considered “a most talented comedy director.” Allen described the project as “autobiographical” in a 24 Dec 1967 NYT interview, recalling his tendency to shoplift and “hustle in crap games” as a youth, and also his early obsession with gangsters and true crime stories.
       According to the 15 Oct 1965 DV, Allen initially planned to film in black-and-white in Chicago, IL. Two months later, however, he was quoted in the 19 Dec 1965 NYT as saying, “We’ll film it here in New York, where the story is set.” The 10 Nov 1965 Var cited a budget of $600,000-$700,000, and indicated that Take the Money and Run would be the first under a fifteen-picture deal being negotiated between Charles K. Feldman’s Famous Artists and United Artists (UA). Allen’s managers, Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe, were set to co-produce with Allen and Feldman, according to the 19 Dec 1965 NYT, and a late spring 1966 start of production was anticipated.
       Over two years later, items in the 22 Apr 1968 DV and LAT reported that Allen had just signed a deal to make Take the Money and Run with Palomar Pictures International. Shooting was now scheduled to take place in and around San Francisco, CA, with a production budget of $1.6 million, although Joffe expected the picture to come in $100,000 under budget, as noted in the 13 Sep 1968 LAT. A final cost of $1.45 million was listed in the 29 Aug 1969 DV, which stated that, together, Joffe and Allen owned thirty-five-percent of the picture.
       Joking about his inexperience, Allen claimed in the 24 Dec 1967 NYT that he knew “nothing at all” about directing but believed he had an “inborn” ability. In an interview published in the 22 Sep 1968 NYT, he stated that he had screened certain films as stylistic reference points for the crew, including I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932, see entry), for its subject matter; The Eleanor Roosevelt Story (1965, see entry), for its documentary approach; Blow-Up (1966, see entry), for its use of color; Live for Life (1967, see entry), for its sexual content; and, Elvira Madigan (1967, see entry), for its “sweetness.”
       Principal photography began in San Francisco on 17 Jun 1968, and was scheduled to be completed within ten weeks, according to the 3 Jul 1968 Var. Production headquarters were established at Stage A, a television studio located in the Mission district. Standing in for various parts of New Jersey, Maryland, Ohio, and Georgia, more than 100 locations were filmed either in the city or within an hour’s drive, the 21 Aug 1968 DV noted. The 15 Aug 1968 LAT listed the corner of Pacific Avenue and Divisadero Street as an exterior filming site where Allen played a scene in an Oldsmobile Toronado. Aerial filming also took place outside Lands End cave, according to the 22 Sep 1968 NYT.
       Jailhouse scenes were shot at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, CA, where “only the first of the four tiers” of the prison’s North Block were allowed to be filmed, the 13 Sep 1968 LAT reported. As a security measure, cast and crew received invisible ink stamps on their hands upon entering the facility. An item in the 29 Aug 1968 DV stated that, coincidentally, actor Micil Murphy, who made his feature film debut in the picture, had previously served a five-and-a-half-year sentence at San Quentin.
       The shoot was improvisation-heavy, as noted in the 15 Aug 1968 LAT. Allen was quoted in the 13 Sep 1968 LAT, stating, “We have a script, but we only use it as a guideline,” and co-star Janet Margolin claimed in the 22 Sep 1968 NYT that she and Allen improvised “every scene” in which they appeared together.
       Fouad Said began the picture as director of photography. However, he was replaced by Lester Shorr several weeks into production, when he reportedly became too busy with his own equipment company, as noted in the 22 Sep 1968 NYT, which emphasized that Said’s departure from the film was amicable.
       The film was rated “M” (for mature audiences) by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). A 6 Aug 1969 DV brief stated that the rating was determined after “extensive” edits had been made.
       Take the Money and Run opened to mixed reviews on 18 Aug 1969 at the 68th Street Playhouse in New York City. The following week, the picture had its Los Angeles, CA, debut at the Regent Theatre in Westwood, where it proved to be a commercial success, setting first and second-week house box-office records, according to the 11 Sep 1969 DV. By early spring 1970, it had grossed $2,453,351, as noted in a 4 Mar 1970 Var box-office chart.
       In 2000, the picture was ranked #66 on 100 Years…100 Laughs, AFI’s list of the funniest American films of all time. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 Jul 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 Sep 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1968
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1968
p. 4.
Daily Variety
21 Jun 1968
p. 6.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1968
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Aug 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
29 Aug 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1969
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
22 Apr 1968
Section C, p. 28.
Los Angeles Times
15 Aug 1968
Section E, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
13 Sep 1968
Section D, p. 1, 17.
Los Angeles Times
11 Aug 1969
Section C, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
28 Aug 1969
Section E, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
7 Sep 1969
Section O, p. 26.
New York Times
19 Dec 1965
p. 13.
New York Times
24 Dec 1967
p. 69.
New York Times
22 Sep 1968.
---
New York Times
19 Aug 1969
p. 32.
New York Times
24 Aug 1969
Section D, p. 1, 14.
Variety
10 Nov 1965
p. 3.
Variety
3 Jul 1968
p. 62.
Variety
4 Mar 1970
p. 9.
Variety
13 Aug 1969
p. 22.
Variety
15 Oct 1969
p. 5.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dir
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus cond
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd mix
Mus & sd eff ed
Mus & sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Casting
Set prop
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 August 1969
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 18 August 1969 at the 68th Street Playhouse
Los Angeles opening: 27 August 1969 at the Regent Theatre
Production Date:
17 June--late August 1968
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
85
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21899
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Lonely and frustrated, Virgil Starkwell decides to become a professional thief. Though moderately successful at robbing gumball machines, he is apprehended and sent to prison when he attempts an armored-car heist. His escape by means of a pistol whittled from a bar of soap results in a two-year increase of his sentence. But Virgil courageously consents to act as a human guinea pig in a medical experiment and then is paroled and tries to go straight. Unable to find a job, he resorts to purse-snatching, and, while cruising a park for victims, he meets and falls in love with Louise, a lovely young laundress. Determined to change the course of his life, Virgil decides to rob a bank. However, the tellers involve him in a heated argument over the spelling in his illegible holdup note, and Virgil again is put in jail. Louise visits him weekly and tries to keep up his spirits, but his jail term ends abruptly when he accidentally finds himself on the outside of the walls. Free again, he marries Louise and begins a new life by taking an office job in another state. Miss Blaire, a predatory fellow employee, learns about his criminal past and blackmails him, whereupon Virgil repeatedly attempts to murder her by stabbing her with a drumstick from the turkey dinner she has prepared. Having failed at an honest living, and with Louise now pregnant, Virgil makes plans for his future family by masterminding still another bank robbery, and once more finds himself behind bars. Undaunted, he effects a daring escape chained to five other convicts and makes his way back to Louise. Now a notorious fugitive, Virgil is recaptured and ... +


Lonely and frustrated, Virgil Starkwell decides to become a professional thief. Though moderately successful at robbing gumball machines, he is apprehended and sent to prison when he attempts an armored-car heist. His escape by means of a pistol whittled from a bar of soap results in a two-year increase of his sentence. But Virgil courageously consents to act as a human guinea pig in a medical experiment and then is paroled and tries to go straight. Unable to find a job, he resorts to purse-snatching, and, while cruising a park for victims, he meets and falls in love with Louise, a lovely young laundress. Determined to change the course of his life, Virgil decides to rob a bank. However, the tellers involve him in a heated argument over the spelling in his illegible holdup note, and Virgil again is put in jail. Louise visits him weekly and tries to keep up his spirits, but his jail term ends abruptly when he accidentally finds himself on the outside of the walls. Free again, he marries Louise and begins a new life by taking an office job in another state. Miss Blaire, a predatory fellow employee, learns about his criminal past and blackmails him, whereupon Virgil repeatedly attempts to murder her by stabbing her with a drumstick from the turkey dinner she has prepared. Having failed at an honest living, and with Louise now pregnant, Virgil makes plans for his future family by masterminding still another bank robbery, and once more finds himself behind bars. Undaunted, he effects a daring escape chained to five other convicts and makes his way back to Louise. Now a notorious fugitive, Virgil is recaptured and returned to jail. Sitting in his cell, he reflects on his life of crime as he picks up a bar of soap and begins to whittle. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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