Take the Money and Run Movie Poster Image

Take the Money and Run



Generous laughs in satirical early Woody Allen escapade.
  • Review Date: December 21, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1969
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Most of the characters here are simply drawn or joke stereotypes, some of them using popular clichés of African Americans and Jews (but not to an offensive extreme). You wouldn't want kids to imitate Virgil Starkwell (and in a passing but trademark Woody Allen gag, he's described as having been brought up as a "good atheist"), but that's part of the joke. His lawbreaking shows no meanness or sadism, even though he kills a woman blackmailing him.


Pistols and rifle fire, but nobody ever hit or hurt. Some slapstick roughhousing and gags in which characters get bashed, pummeled, exploded, or whipped, just offscreen.


A very mild, poetic montage suggesting nudity in (pre-marital) sex. Virgil's wife embarrasses him by talking (non-clinically) about their bedroom issues. Virgil is blackmailed by another woman who knows of his criminal past into a sexual relationship, but nothing is shown. Homosexuality is mentioned.


"S--t" is said once.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief social drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is gunplay -- harmless and bloodless -- and reckless driving in this madcap comedy that makes a hero out of a criminal character. Grownup ingredients include bedroom talk and a montage suggesting nudity in (pre-marital) sex. Some jokes trade lightly on ethnic images and stereotypes, particularly of African Americans and Jews.

What's the story?

In a "mockumentary" opening, viewers are told this will be the saga of dreaded bank robber Virgil Starkwell (Woody Allen), a guy so luckless and inept that as a boy he tried to play bass fiddle in a marching band. From juvenile-deliquency days robbing gumball machines, Starkwell progresses up to banks, even though nobody can read his stickup note (they think it says he has a "gub," not a gun). Despite his career-criminal leanings, Starkwell manages to romance and marry sweet, innocent Louise (Janet Margolin), but his bumbling outlaw escapades continue, even landing him on a chain gang. In the end, sentenced to 800 years in prison but no wiser, he hints to the documentary filmmakers he's planning yet another disastrous breakout attempt.

Is it any good?


TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN was technically Woody Allen's first feature (he had previously orchestrated What's Up Tiger Lily?, a cinematic prank in which he rewrote all the dubbed dialog for an entire Japanese spy thriller to make it a goof about a secret-formula egg-salad recipe). The filmmaker had already established himself as a self-deprecating stand-up comic with a hilarious hangdog persona, and this plugs the popular comedian Allen and his sense of misfit absurdity and helplessness into a deadpan crime drama.

Crook biopics had cracked the 1960s box-office thanks to the ultraviolent Bonnie and Clyde, and Allen here mocks the Hollywood attitude dictating a big-screen robber has to be a matinee idol like Warren Beatty or James Cagney; Virgil's a stumblebum nebbish who can't even work in a prison laundry without accidents (Allen's slapstick physical humor is on-target throughout). It's still funny, even if the loose storyline just sort of stops in the end. Word is that the original script was such a disorganized bag of sketches that Allen's collaborators invented the wonderful fake-documentary framework as the only way to pull it together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the purpose of Woody Allen's comedy here. The movie spoofs the "serious" movies that turn robbers into folk heroes and evoke the "outlaw mystique." What about the main character here makes that idea comic? Looking at landmarks in crime-film history (Scarface, Bonnie and Clyde, The Bank Job), do you think Hollywood goes overboard in glamorizing wrongdoers?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 18, 1969
DVD release date:June 15, 1999
Cast:Janet Margolin, Marcel Hillaire, Woody Allen
Director:Woody Allen
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Take the Money and Run was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written bydogonuts July 8, 2014
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 6, 12, and 12 year old Written byLady Kataana August 8, 2011


Woody Allen for kids? Really?
Teen, 16 years old Written byhamstergurl09 November 8, 2010

My Favorite Movie Probably Ever

This is hysterical. A must-see, for sure. I reference it daily, but since it came out in 1970, not very many people get the reference. However, I think that Common Sense rated the appropriateness of this one too low (that's a first!). On for age 11? I think 11 is probably a bit too young for this movie. There's a scene with nudity. No private parts are shown, but it's still not really appropriate for 11 year olds.


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