In this little-seen comedy, the recently divorced Allan Felix (Woody Allen) tries to get the hang of dating. Trouble is, he's romantically self-destructive: Felix (I'll use his surname to avoid confusion) says he's attracted to “emotionally disturbed women,” and that's not an exaggeration. The depth of his perverse inclination becomes clear when he approaches a woman looking at a Jackson Pollock drip-painting, and asks what it means to her. She answers: “It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous, lonely, emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos.” She's just the kind of woman Felix has been looking for, and he asks her what's she's doing Saturday night. “Committing suicide,” she responds. Unfazed, he counters: “What about Friday night?”
This nameless woman seems to articulate Allen's world view exactly. (After the 2009 release of Whatever Works, he told NPR that filmmaking “distracts me from the uncertainty of life, the inevitability of aging and death and death of loved ones; mass killings and starvation, from holocausts—not just man-made carnage, but the existential position you're in.” Inspiring!) But in Play It Again, Sam, we're clearly meant to find her approach ridiculous. The depressive despairs: Because there is “nothing,” she longs to return to that state. Felix, by contrast, moves forward blithely: If existence is lonely and hideous, why not go out on Saturday? Or Friday, whatever, he's not busy. By letting Felix win the volley, Allen also endorses his protagonist's resigned epicurean sensibility.