“Isn’t all mankind ultimately executed for a crime it never committed?”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
Interestingly, critical opinions appear to be divided on this early-ish Allen comedy, made after a string of early slapstick favorites — including Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971), Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex *But Were Afraid to Ask (1972), and Sleeper (1973) — and just before Annie Hall (1977). Most agree with Peary that it’s not among his best work, though Jack Purdy of the Baltimore City Paper believes it’s under-rated, and referred to it as Allen’s “most pitch-perfect broad comedy”. While Sleeper (1973) is my personal favorite of Allen’s early work, Love and Death remains a unique delight in its pointed satire of not only Great Russian Literature but the deep philosophical themes of Bergman’s oeuvre (which is explicitly referenced), as well as Eisenstein’s The Battleship Potemkin (1925) (watch for an iconically shattered eyepiece in one battle sequence).
Allen’s screenplay moves at such a fast clip that you’re sure to remain engaged throughout; there are so many cleverly conceived scenarios, characters, interactions, and one-liners that even if a few fall short, the rest easily carry the day.
My favorite visual sequence: Allen’s “Boris” flirts openly with a gorgeous countess at an opera house.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: