Today is unofficially my first day of summer vacation. I will use the word vacation liberally because I know it will not be free of stress. In the past day I have watched two Woody Allen films, Sleeper from 1973 and 1975's Love and Death. Sleeper is Woody Allen's first film to co-star Diane Keaton. The couple were linked romantically in the early 1970s when she starred in Allen's play Play It Again, Sam on Broadway. Love and Death is an important film because it is the link between Allen's early comedies and his more philosophical films.
In Sleeper Woody Allen plays Miles Monroe, a man who was cryogenically frozen against his will in 1973 and is revived 200 years later when doctors belonging to an underground movement need his assistance against the American government, which has become a police state. Miles poses as a robot butler and is assigned to work in the home of Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton), a poet and socialite who entertains every night of the week. When Miles is apprehended it becomes Luna's responsibility to join the underground and rescue him. Sleeper is hilarious, well-written and the chemistry between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton is apparent from the beginning.
Love and Death is a turning point for Woody Allen. The film depends less on comedic gags and features many commentaries on philosophy. The film is set during the Napoleonic wars and Boris (Woody Allen), a coward and a pacifist, is forced to join the Russian army. He is in love with his cousin Sonja (Diane Keaton) who is in love with Boris' brother who is in love with another woman. Sonja eventually marries an elderly herring merchant whom she does not love. Boris inadvertently becomes a war hero and returns to Moscow and marries Sonja, who has recently become a widow. She does not love Boris but agrees to marry him because she believes that he is about to be killed in a duel. Sonja, angry at Napoleon's presence in Russia, concocts a plan to assassinate the French emperor. Love and Death is Woody Allen's most intelligent film to date. Woody Allen's comedic genius and his philosophical beliefs about life, love, death and religion are cleverly translated on screen.
Sleeper and Love and Death are two of Woody Allen's funniest films from his early filmography.
Next up: Annie Hall.
1. Love and Death
3. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)
4. Take the Money and Run
6. What's Up, Tiger Lily?