Take the Money and Run
© 2004 by Raymond Weschler
Virgil Stockwell..............................Woody Allen
A poor and unlucky young man who decides that the
only way he can survive is to make a living as a criminal.
A sweet and innocent young woman who eventually
becomes Virgils wife after they meet in a park.
Mr. Starkwell.................................Henry Leff
Virgils father, who thinks his son is a horrible person.
Mrs. Starkwell................................Ethel Sokolow
Virgils mom, who thinks his son is basically a good person
but has had trouble because of his difficult childhood.
The Narrator..................................Jackson Beck
The person who officially tells Virgils troubled story to the audience.
This film is the first movie starring and directed by Woody Allen, who would go on
to become one of the most famous comic actors in the history of American cinema. It is
done in the form of a documentary, and tells the life story of Virgil Stockwell, a poor
and desperate young man who turns to a life of crime because he cant seem to make a
living doing anything else. The narrator tells of Virgils life from his unhappy
childhood to his ridiculous life as a bank robber, often through the use of interviews
with people who have known him. Those people include everyone from his decent but
ashamed parents (so ashamed of Virgil, in fact, that they wear disguises while they
are interviewed), to his psychologists and fellow inmates in prison.
For Virgil, the best thing that happens in his life is when he meets Louise, a sweet
and pretty young woman who works in a laundry. Virgil had played cello as a boy, and
when he meets Louise, he tells her that he is a professional classical musician in
the city philharmonic. Eventually, of course, Louise finds out that Virgil is simply
a common criminal and bank robber, but she stays loyal to him, even after an endless
series of failed bank robberies in which Virgil always ends up back in prison, forever
trying just one more time to escape...
Some Words and Expressions that You May not Know
Virgil Starkwell survives a difficult childhood
and grows up to become a common criminal.
The wife of a New Jersey handyman.
A "handyman" is a person who is skilled at fixing many different types
of things, from electrical and plumbing problems to windows and roofs.
He is an exceptionally cute baby with a sweet disposition.
"Cute" is an important word for attractive, in a child-like way. A persons
"disposition" is their mood or attitude, as a part of their personality.
Assault, armed robbery and illegal possession of a wart.
"Assault" is a legal term for threatening to physically attack a person.
"Armed robbery" is the act of robbing or stealing something, with the use
of a weapon such as a gun. "Possession" is the act of physically having something,
and a "wart" is a small, raised surface on a persons skin.
Growing up in a slum neighborhood where the crime
rate is amongst the highest in the nation is not easy.
A "slum" is a very poor area of a city, often
where poor minorities live and crime is common.
Particularly for Virgil, who is small and frail compared to the other children.
"Frail" is another word for weak or fragile.
He scores well on an IQ test, although his behavior disturbs the teachers.
An "IQ test" is an exam that is supposed to measure a persons
intelligence. "To disturb" a person is to bother or annoy them.
Virgil takes to crime at an early age.
"To take to" something is to begin to participate in it.
With both parents working to make ends
meet, he becomes close to his grandfather.
"To make ends meet" is an interesting way of saying to
make enough money to pay for all your expenses.
Virgils grandfather is struck in the head by a ball. The blow causes
permanent injury to his mind and he becomes convinced he is Kaiser Wilhelm.
A "blow" is a word for a physical hit or strike. A persons "mind" is the part
of them which thinks and feels, though it is sometimes used as another word
for brain. The "Kaiser" was the leader of Germany before World War 1.
Here are some rare photos of him with
other patients on the sanitarium grounds.
A "sanitarium" is an old word for a place where old people live who
cant take care of themselves (A "home" is more common today).
The "grounds" of a building are its surrounding yards and gardens.
When he is 15 years old, amidst the violence and
poverty of the slums, Virgil receives a cello as a gift.
"Amidst" means in the middle of. A "cello" is a large musical instrument.
He had no idea about tone production.
An important word in music for the quality of a sound.
He would just saw it back and forth, just scratch the instrument to such
a point that it would drive everyone who listened to it absolutely insane.
"To saw something back and forth" is to move an object over it in one
direction and then the opposite direction, the way one uses a saw to cut
down a tree. "To drive a person insane" is to drive or make them crazy.
He had no conception of the instrument.
In this case, another word for understanding.
He would not apply himself one iota.
"To apply yourself" is to try hard at doing something, like mastering a
musical instrument. An "iota" is a very small or tiny unit of measurement,
and thus the above sentence is saying he would not try at all.
A jungle, however, is no place for a cellist.
A "jungle" is both the wet and wooded area where snakes and alligators
live as well as any area of a big city that is considered very dangerous.
Unable to concentrate in school, he has long since dropped out.
"To drop out" of school is to leave it, before finishing or graduating.
He wants nothing more than to belong, if only to a street gang.
In this case, "to belong" is a word from modern psychology which means to
feel part of a group that cares about you. A "street gang" is usually a
gang of young people who are involved in violence and illegal activity.
It is here he thinks he will prove his manhood.
If a man wants to "prove his manhood," he is trying to show others
how strong, courageous, or appropriately enough, manly, he really is.
"Im going to be a pool hustler," he tells his friends.
A "pool hustler" makes their living by gambling on games of pool, usually
against people they know they can beat (Pool is the table top game where
players try to push large balls into side pockets).
Virgil tries to join the navy but is psychologically unfit.
If a person is "psychologically unfit," they are
considered emotionally disturbed or unstable
That looks to me like elephants making love to a mens glee club.
A "glee club" is a group of people who sing, often short songs.
Mr. T. M. Foster, Virgils first probation officer, remembers him vividly.
A "probation officer" is a government official that meets with prisoners
after they have been released into society to make sure that they are not
getting into trouble and deserve to stay out of prison To remember
something "vividly" is to remember it well, in great detail.
He was a trustworthy kind of person. I mean you
had to remember certain idiosyncrasies that he had.
If a person is "trustworthy," they can be trusted. If a person has
"idiosyncrasies," they have behaviors that most other people would
think are odd or strange.
Sometimes, he exaggerated the truth.
"To exaggerate" is to overstate or overemphasize, such as when you say a
person is the tallest in the state even though they are just very tall.
Unable to fit in with any aspect of his environment, Virgil strikes out on his own.
"To fit in" with a group is to become a natural part of it. "Aspect" is a
particular part or appearance of a greater whole. "To strike out on ones own"
is to try and accomplish something big without the help of others.
In an effort to shed some light on this period
of his life, we spoke with his father and mother.
"To shed some light" on a situation is to explore
it in detail so one can understand it better.
Oh, come on. He was a good boy?!
The most common and versatile phrasal verb
in English, hear meaning "be serious."
Hes rotten. Hes a gangster.
If a person is "rotten," they are completely bad, disgusting or immoral.
He was so bright and so talented.
"Bright" is another word for very smart.
He was an atheist! I tried to beat God into him but it was too tough.
An "atheist" is an important word for a person who does not believe
in God, and "to beat God into them" is a violent way of saying to try and
convince them to believe in God. "Tough" means strong and able to resist
great pain or punishment.
I mean, youre a very dominating person.
If a person is "dominating," they usually have great power in their
relationships, and often are louder or more aggressive than others.
Vowing that he will never serve his full term, Virgil plans
an elaborate escape using a bar of soap and some shoe polish.
"To vow" is to promise to do something, and in this case, a prisoners
"full term" is the number of years theyve been sentenced to prison.
If a plan is "elaborate," it is complicated with many details.
You got to take me to the infirmary.
An "infirmary" is a place where sick or weak
people are taken to be treated or cared for.
Virgils attempted escape is dealt with harshly;
His sentence is extended an additional two years.
"To deal harshly" with a person is treat them cruelly. A prisoners
"sentence" is the amount of time they are required to serve in prison
for the crime they committed. "To extend" a sentence is to increase it.
1956 is a happy-go-lucky year for most people.
An old but interesting expression for fun or cheerful.
The doctors want someone to be inoculated with a new vaccine.
"To inoculate" a person is to give them a medicine, usually with a needle,
that will protect them from a disease. A "vaccine" is a type of medicine
that contains the weak form of a disease to allow the body to develop a
natural defense against the normal stronger version of the disease.
We dont know what the side effects may be.
The "side effects" of a medicine are its unintended results (for example,
a flu shot may prevent the flu but also cause people to grow weak).
With parole as inducement, Virgil submits to the vaccine test.
"Parole" is the act of letting a prisoner out of prison before his sentence
is over because he has behaved well in prison. An "inducement" is a promised
reward for doing something, and "to submit" to something is to agree to do it.
For several hours, he is turned into a rabbi.
A "rabbi" is a religious leader in the Jewish religion.
The reason we celebrate the Passover holidays by eating Matzo is to
commemorate the time Moses led the children of Israel from Egypt.
"Passover" is one of the best known Jewish holidays, "matzo" is a type of Jewish
bread, and "to commemorate" something important that happened in the past is
to officially remember or recognize it.
He has so many good qualities.
A persons "qualities" are the various features or
aspects of their character, such as kindness or honesty.
A no-good atheist was what he was.
An interesting adjective thats used to mean very bad or awful.
Virgil leaves jail and soon falls in love with Louise.
Virgil leaves prison apprehensive, but with some hope he can begin a new life.
If a person is "apprehensive," they are very
nervous about something that is going to happen.
He finds a world difficult to cope with.
"To cope with" a situation is to try and deal with it, even though it is hard.
Desperate and broke, Virgil tries to support himself with small crimes.
"Broke" is a useful slang word that means to have no money.
I was strolling down here just now and I noticed you were drawing something.
"To stroll" is to walk in a slow and casual manner.
Are you an artist? :: Im a laundress. I wash clothes, primarily.
"Laundress" is an interesting but never used word for a person who
makes a living washing clothes. "Primarily" means most importantly.
Yes, Im a cellist.
A person who plays the cello.
Are you with the philharmonic?
Another word for a city orchestra, which primarily plays classical music.
First of all, I was very nauseous.
A person who is "nauseous" is sick to their stomach
and feels like they may throw up or vomit.
I guess Im sensitive...because real beauty makes me want to gag.
"To gag" means to choke on something such that
breathing or swallowing becomes very difficult.
Im nervous around women. I have a tendency to dribble.
If a person has a "tendency to" do something, they usually do it quite a lot
over time. "To dribble" is to let spit or salvia run out of your mouth and
down your face. Try not to do that!
She was not an attractive girl. I used to make obscene phone calls to her
collect. She used to accept the charges all the time, but nothing ever happened.
"Attractive" is a general word for pretty or pleasant to be around. An "obscene
phone call" is one in which the caller says sexually inappropriate or dirty things
to the listener, and to call "collect" is to call an operator first in order to get
the person who is being called to pay for the phone call (with the popularity of
cell phones, collect calls are less common than before). "To accept the charges"
is to agree to pay for a collect call.
Here I am lying through my teeth.
If a person is "lying through their teeth," they are
saying complete lies that are not true in any way.
A lot of people hold those things against you.
"To hold something against" a person is to continue to blame
them or be angry at them for something bad they did in the past.
I was so touched by her, after 15 minutes, I wanted to marry her, and
after a half hour, I completely gave up on the idea of snatching her purse.
"To be touched" by a person is to be strongly effected by them in an
emotional or sentimental way. "To give up on" an idea is to decide to
no longer do it, and "to snatch" a purse is to quickly steal or grab it.
She asked me some questions about Mozart.
She got suspicious because I couldnt place the name.
"To place" a name is to remember who that person is.
He asked if I thought sex was dirty and I said it is if youre doing it right.
A very clever and typical Woody Allen line. Note that "dirty" can mean both
the opposite of clean and in a more general sense, very sexual in a way that
might be offensive or unacceptable to many people.
My heart was really pounding and I felt a funny tingling all over.
If a heart is "pounding," it is beating strongly with great force. "Tingling"
is the feeling of lots of tiny needles gently pushing against your skin.
I was either in love or I had smallpox.
A contagious disease that was largely eliminated through vaccines.
Theres millions of them in one of those bins.
A "bin" is a large container.
I asked her for a lock of her hair. We didnt have a scissors so I tried to pull it out.
A "lock" of hair is a small piece or curl of hair that is cut off.
She was a good sport.
A good and useful expression for a person who accepts defeat or
disappointment with calm maturity, grace or a good attitude.
When she got excited, she stuttered.
If a person "stutters," they have trouble saying words
without repeating the same sound over and over.
They turn red, theyre always gasping for breath.
"To gasp" for breath is to desperately try to breath
in after having a lot of difficulty doing so.
I offered to let her do my shorts, and she was very moved by that.
If a person is "moved" by something, they are emotionally touched by it.
Continuing his deception, Virgil sees Louise more frequently.
"Deception" is the act of trying to fool a person into believing something
that is not true (Here, Virgil wants Louise to think hes a musician).
In order to understand Louise, let us examine her background briefly.
In this context, a persons "background" is their past life, including
their experiences, knowledge and education until the present.
Adopted at age two from a cruel and impoverished
orphanage, raised by a career military man and his wife...
If a person or organization is "impoverished," it is very poor.
An "orphanage" is a home where children without parents are raised.
...she was subject to an upbringing of extreme
discipline, which left her shy and withdrawn.
If a person is "subject to" hard conditions, they are forced to accept them.
A persons "upbringing" is how they were raised by their parents or care-givers,
and "discipline" is an important word for the act of controlling children and
others to make sure they follow an acceptable type of behavior. If a person is
"withdrawn," they are shy and quiet.
Her father pursued a brilliant military career, which
after 30 years catapulted him to the rank of corporeal.
"To pursue" a career is to follow it with great energy and determination.
"To catapult" is to fly through the air with great speed. "Rank" is an official
word for level, and "corporeal" is a middle rank in the US army.
She turns to religion for comfort and quickly becomes a fanatic.
A person who is a "fanatic" is devoted to a religion or other cause, often so
much so that they believe that all others who are not devoted to that same
religion or cause are lost or will not be saved by (their) God.
She responds to Louises need for love by beating the child, and claims to have
conversations with God in which they discuss salvation and interior decorating.
"To beat" a person is to cruelly hit or strike them, again and again. "Salvation"
is a religious word that refers to the act of being saved by God for life after death,
and "interior decorating" is the art of arranging the inside of a house with
remodeling, furniture, paintings, etc.
Virgil fails at bank robbery and prison escape,
but after he gets out, he fathers a baby with Louise.
Destitute and in love, Virgil attempts to change his life with one bold stroke.
If a person is "destitute," they are desperately poor. A "bold stroke"
is a dramatic plan or action that can change everything in a persons life.
I am pointing a gun at you.
"To point" a gun at somebody is to aim it or direct it at them.
Oh, I see. This is a hold-up.
A "hold-up" is the act of robbing a bank or person
(The victim is told to hold up their arms).
Youll have to have this note initialed by one of our
Vice-Presidents before I can give you any money.
If you "initial" a note, you sign the first
letter of your first and last name on it.
Im in a rush. :: Im sorry, but thats our policy.
A banks "policy" is the rules it decides it must follow to reach its goals.
Louise, I cant make our date today.
Here, a "date" is the act of two people going out to a restaurant, movie
or other place, often in the hopes of creating romantic possibilities.
Virgil Stockwell is apprehended in the act of bank robbery. He is
given 10 years in the States strictest maximum security prison.
If a person is "apprehended" while committing a crime, they are caught.
If a prison is "strict," it is run with great discipline, and a "maximum
security prison" is generally the toughest type of prison for the most
dangerous criminals (the opposite of a minimum security prison).
It is here that he mingles with hardened criminals for the first time.
"To mingle" with people is to talk to them casually, often while at a social
event. If a criminal is "hardened," theyre generally dangerous or cruel.
A prison has not been built that can hold me, Virgil tells a fellow inmate.
In this context, "fellow" means a comrade or person of equal level
or rank, and an "inmate" is a prisoner or other type of held person.
Lets face it; It was our fault.
A common way of saying "We need to accept the difficult truth."
Whose genes did he have? And chromosomes?
Two key words from biology that deal with a persons or animals DNA,
which is the tiny material in cells passed from one generation to the next.
Dont talk fancy in front of the man, because,
you know, youll make an impression.
"Talk fancy" is Virgils dads silly way of saying to use educated words
(In this case, relating to biology and genetics). More generally, "fancy"
means of high quality.
Time passes slowly for Virgil, who works hard and tries to adjust to prison life.
"To adjust to" something is to get used to it over time.
He becomes a model prisoner and is put to work in the laundry.
A "model prisoner" is one who causes no problems for the prison.
I called up your landlady. She told me you were here.
The woman who owns your apartment building or the house you live in.
Youre allergic to cake.
If a person is "allergic to" a type of food, they get sick if they eat it.
I need a dozen chocolate chip cookies with a bullet in each.
The deadly metal projectiles that you shoot with a gun.
I estimate in the neighborhood of 10 years.
A complicated way of saying about.
With Louise to inspire him, Virgil works hard and becomes more optimistic.
If somebody "inspires" you, they move you to feel
more optimistic, motivated or excited about something.
Louises impact on Virgil is discussed by Dr. Julius
Epstein, one of the prison psychiatrists who recalls Virgil.
In this case, "impact" is another word for influence or effect.
A "psychiatrist" is a psychologist who is also a medical doctor (MD),
and "to recall" is to remember.
His love for her was the healthiest thing in his life. It was genuine and clean.
A good word for authentic, real and true.
I become eligible for parole in a year and a half.
To be "eligible for" something is to qualify for it or be able to receive it.
In this context, "parole" is the act of letting a prisoner out of prison earlier
than his completed sentence, because of their good behavior.
We got this proposition we need to talk over with you.
A "proposition" is a proposal or idea for a plan.
You guys gotta be kidding.
"You cant be serious!" Note that "have got to"----->"gotta" in rapid speech.
First, no broad is gonna wait around for years for you.
"Broad" is a stupid and dated slang word for a woman.
Note that "going to"-----> "gonna" in rapid speech.
I think the conflict in this personality disorder started in his formative
years. I think it gave evidence in his choice of the cello, for instance.
"Conflict" is a struggle between two sides. A "personality disorder"
is a term from modern psychology that means an emotional problem.
A persons "formative years" are when their personality is formed,
generally when they are young children. "Evidence" is a legal word that
refers to anything that is used to prove the truth of a statement.
Its generally assumed that the cello is a phallic symbol.
A "cello" is a large musical instrument, and a "phallic symbol"
is anything that is thought to represent or symbolize a penis.
I mean with the grasp, but...the lower
structural form is celebrating the feminine.
A "grasp" is the act of holding tightly to something. This is all nonsensical
talk about how the shape of a cello represents both male and female.
The utilization of the bow, I would imagine,
is the sublimation of stroking a torso.
"Utilization" is a complicated word for use. A "bow" is a wooden stick
that is used to play a stringed musical instrument. "Sublimation" is the act
of directing or channeling an emotion, often such as frustration, into a specific
activity. "To stroke" something is to rub it back and forth, and a persons
"torso" is their body (not including their head).
So between the grasping of the phallic and the stroking of the torso,
it would create, I would imagine, great conflict even at the age of six.
This is the psychiatrists ridiculous way of saying that the very act
of playing a cello could cause great sexual tension in a child.
His every move becomes tense and strained.
If a persons actions are "strained," they are made with great
difficulty, often because of tension, lack of energy or other problems.
We already got some uniforms stashed in the dark room.
A "uniform" refers to the official clothes that people in a specific organization wear.
"To stash" something is to hide it away in a secret location, for future use.
Sir, we cant find our underwear. I think somethings up.
A common way of saying that something strange or
unexpected is happening, but it is not clear what that is.
The warden knows somethings up. Better call off the break.
A "warden" is the leader of a prison. "To call off" something is to cancel it,
and in this case, "the break" is a way of referring to the prison escape plan
(To break out of prison is to escape from it).
Mike Sullivan, an ex-convict and one of the leaders, describes that fateful day.
A "convict" is a person who has been sent to prison (They have been convicted
of a crime). A "fateful day" is usually a day in which very important and
dramatic things take place.
Theres a break in the North cell block! Notify the warden immediately!
A "cell block" is a group of prison cells or housing units for prisoners,
usually located in a particular part of a building. "To notify" a person
is to inform them.
Could somebody possibly sneak downstairs and let me back in?
"To sneak" downstairs is to go downstairs very quietly
or secretly, in such a way that nobody will notice.
Alright, I got your daughter! Please hold your fire, men!
If you "hold your fire," you stop (or dont start) shooting the gun that you have.
Is Kowolski a midget?
An abnormally small or tiny person.
It is a simple ceremony, followed by what
he later describes as a deeply moving blood test.
A "ceremony" is a traditional or formal event, such as a wedding.
If something is "moving," it is emotional or sentimental.
He turned out to be a punk.
If a person "turns out" a certain way, it is unexpectedly discovered that they are
that way, or they end up that way. A "punk" is a violent or unpleasant trouble-maker.
They take up residence in another state and live on Louises
small savings. They move into a cheaply furnished flat.
"To take up residence" in a building is to move into it.
A "flat" is a British English word for an apartment.
I got a cramp in the arch of my foot!
A "cramp" is a sharp pain in ones muscles. The "arch"
of your foot is the bottom curved or bent part.
He secures a little work selling encyclopedias door
to door, but the job proves too much for him.
"To secure" a job is to get it. If it "proves too much"
for you, you dont have the skills or energy to do it.
He is forced to take to the streets, and for a while
he earns a meager living selling meagers.
To earn a "meager living" is to earn just enough to survive, but no more.
This is a funny sentence, but "meagers" as a noun does not exist!
Were going to have a baby. :: Get out of here!
An excellent colloquial expression which basically means "Thats
ridiculous; I dont believe you" (It can be reduced to "Get out!").
In the Spring, Virgil and Louise are blessed with a son.
If a person is "blessed with" something, they are fortunate to be given it.
His back against the wall, he attempts to lie his way into the job.
If a persons "back is against the wall," theyre in a very difficult situation.
Name, please. :: John Q. Public.
The name that is used to describe the typical man.
What kind of office was it? :: Rectangular.
If an office "rectangular," it is shaped like a rectangle (A square with two sides
longer than the other two). Note though this is not answering the intended question!
Have you ever had any experience in running
a high speed electronic digital computer?
Note that in 1969, few people had experience with these.
Today, of course, theyre just called computers .
What does your aunt do? :: I cant recall.
"To recall" is to remember.
Did you deal in products or services?
To "deal in" something is to be involved in selling it.
Is this something found in the home? :: No, its not. One down and nine to go.
These are the words one would use when a contestant is answering questions on a
television game show ("You have nine questions left to get the right answer").
Is this product edible?
A good word for anything that can be eaten (" Eatable " is not a word!)
Our time has run out, and Im sorry to say that you havent guessed my occupation,
and so Im going to flip all the cards and tell you what I used to do.
A persons "occupation" is their profession or what
they do for a living. "To flip" a card is to turn it over.
I used to manufacture escalator shoes for
people who were nauseous in elevator shoes.
A truly ridiculous thing to say! "To manufacture" something is to build
or make it, and if a person is "nauseous," they are sick to their stomach.
An "escalator" is a moving staircase between floors, and an "elevator" is
a platform for bringing people up and down between floors. "Elevator shoes"
are used to make people look taller, but this term is dated.
Better luck next time. Youre a good sport.
If a person is "a good sport," they have a positive attitude and are not
easily upset if they are disappointed or lose in a sporting event.
Virgil becomes the victim of a blackmail plot.
Virgil does well at his first decent job, the mail room.
If a job is "decent," it is reasonably good or not bad.
His past catches up with him, however, as a
fellow employee learns of his criminal record.
If a persons "past catches up with them," something bad that they did in the
past begins to negatively effect them in the present. A "criminal record" is an
official record of a persons past crimes that are kept by the police or
other government agency.
Virgil Starkwell becomes the victim of a blackmail plot.
"Blackmail" is the act of threatening to harm a person, sometimes just by
telling one of their secrets to others if they do not agree to do something
that is being demanded, such as paying money. A "plot" is a plan that is
usually illegal and often involves two or more people.
Miss Blair, confident of her power to expose him,
begins making small demands for money.
In this context, "to expose" a person is to tell
their dark secrets or past actions to other people.
Everything that he holds dear is in jeopardy.
"To hold something dear" is to value it greatly. If something
is "in jeopardy," it is in great danger of being hurt or destroyed.
His life and family hang on the whim of an unstable woman.
"A whim" is a sudden desire or idea that has not been well thought out.
He is driven to desperation and with the responsibility of a wife
and child to protect, Virgil Starkwell contemplates murder.
If a person is "driven to desperation," they find themselves in
a situation where they are willing to do anything to escape.
"To contemplate" something is to think seriously about it.
Did you hurt your hand? Clumsy!
If a person is "clumsy," theyre physically awkward and tend to drop things a lot.
Disguising two sticks of dynamite as candles,
he sends Miss Blair an anonymous gift.
"To disguise" something is to make it appear as something different than it
really is. "Dynamite" is a very powerful explosive thats often used as a
weapon during war. If a gift is "anonymous," it is given by a person who
does not identify themselves or reveal who they really are.
Determined to rid himself of the blackmailer,
he rents a car and attempts to run her over.
If you try to "rid yourself" of a person, you try to eliminate them
or drive them from your life. "To run over" a person in a car is to
literally drive the car over their body.
You can do the carving.
"To carve" a turkey is to cut it into nice slices for a dinner.
Im creating the proper atmosphere, dear. :: Im a sucker for atmosphere.
In this context, "proper atmosphere" is the right combination of things
like lighting, good food and nice music, which create a positive or romantic
ambiance or environment. If a person is a "sucker for" something, they are
easily impressed or made happy by it.
With law enforcement agencies on his trail,
Virgil takes his family and heads South.
"Law enforcement agencies" refers to governmental organizations like
the FBI (The Federal Bureau of Investigation) as well as the local police.
If a person is "on your trail," they are trying to find you by looking
for physical evidence of where you have recently been.
They manage to secure cheap lodging temporarily.
"To manage to" do something is to be able to
do it. "Lodging" is another word for housing.
I tried mugging old ladies, but I got hit in the groin with a crutch.
"To mug" is a violent verb meaning to physically attack somebody, usually in
order to steal their money. A mans groin is the area of their body between
their legs and under their belly, and a "crutch" is a support that people
with broken legs place under their armpits to help them walk.
I tired counterfeiting for a while. I got the plates
all fouled up. Lincoln was smoking a cigarette,
"To counterfeit" is to produce fake money. In this case, "plates" are
printing plates used to print money, and "to foul up" something is
to do a poor job of it (Note that President Lincoln is on the $5 bill).
I robbed a butcher shop. I got away with 116 veal cutlets, and then
I had to go out and steal a tremendous amount of breading.
"To rob" a store is to steal from it. A "butcher shop" is where meat
is sold, and "veal cutlets" are pieces of meat from very young cows.
"Tremendous" means huge or very big, and "breading" refers to bread
crumbs that are put on certain pieces of meat.
With food scarce, the Starkwells live like hunted animals.
If something is "scarce," it is hard to find or in very limited supply.
It was tough, but my family was starving and I had already filed for bankruptcy.
Here, "tough" means very difficult, and "to file for bankruptcy" is a legal
term in which a person officially declares that they are not capable of
paying off their debts, or the money that they owe others.
What prompted you to go on?
"To prompt" a person to do something is to make them decide to do it.
In this case, "to go on" means simply to continue doing what you were doing before.
They must have looked up to you. :: Well, you know, these guys are mugs.
"To look up" to a person is to admire or think highly of them. A "mug" is
a dated word for a fool or a person who is easily tricked or deceived.
Virgils greatest bank robbery plan
fails and soon he faces life on a chain gang.
I think its our only way out of this mess;
Theres a little dinky bank in Ross County.
Here, a "mess" is a very difficult problem or situation. "Dinky" means very
small or tiny, and a "county" is an administrative area of a state that is
bigger than a city (There are several counties in each state).
First he selects an appropriate bank. Next he cases the bank
by clearly concealing a camera in an unsuspected place.
"Appropriate" is key word meaning suitable, fitting or reasonable
for the situation. "To case" a bank is to study it carefully, with the later
intent to rob it. "To conceal" a camera is to hide it from public view.
Among the ones chosen are some of the most sinister names in the underworld.
"Sinister" is an excellent word meaning truly evil or horrible.
"Underworld" is a colloquial word for organized crime or the Mafia.
Wanted for assault with a deadly weapon,
murder and getting naked in front of his in-laws.
More typical silliness from Woody Allen; "Assault" is the legal term
for threatening to physically attack a person, and a persons "in-laws"
are the parents of their husband or wife.
To destroy the evidence, were gonna eat the film. It will
be buffet style and you can just help yourselves. Take plates.
If a dinner is served "buffet style," diners come to a long buffet
or table and serve themselves to the different foods that they want.
I put out little trays of pretzels and bullets.
A "tray" is a serving dish for food, with a flat bottom and low rim.
The idea is that we pull up in front of the
bank and we look like were making a movie.
"To pull up" a car in front of a bank is to park right in front of it.
I got the perfect guy. An ex-con I did some time with by the name of Fritz.
A common term for a person who was former
convict, which is a person who spent time in jail.
Ruth and Gherig were baseball players. :: I was also a bat boy for the Yankees.
A "bat boy" is a young boy who gives the bats to the players in professional
baseball (Babe Ruth and Lou Gherig were the most famous players for the
New York Yankees in the 1920s).
You will enter the bank and say "Up with your hands!, This
is a stick-up," thereby announcing our theme; Mans greed.
A "stick-up" is slang expression for the act of pointing a gun at a person
and demanding their money. A "theme" is the general subject or topic of a
work of art, such as a movie or play.
Everybody, take five.
In the entertainment business, a way of telling people
to relax, or literally, to take a five minute break.
Oh Jesus, every day I have trouble getting in the bathroom. For crying out loud.
"Jesus" is a common way of expressing emotion such as anger or
frustration, and "for crying out loud" is a strange but still used
expression which is also used to show frustration or anger.
I happened to have ironed your beige shirt. :: Its light! Ill be an easy target.
"To iron" a shirt is to remove the wrinkles from it with a heated iron,
which is a hot metal object that is used for that purpose. "Beige" is a light brown
color, and if a person is an "easy target," they can be easily seen and shot at.
Virgil and his accomplices depart from his
hideout and proceed toward their destination.
A criminals "accomplices" are those people who help him commit
a crime. "To depart" is to leave, and a "hideout" is a place where
criminals and others who are trying to hide try to avoid being
captured. "To proceed" is to move forward.
Were holding up the bank! :: No, we were hear first.
"To hold-up" a bank is to rob it. Note it is also a noun.
Weve been planning this for months! Were
not going to have it ruined by a jackass.
"To ruin" something is to completely destroy it. A "jackass"
is an interesting insult word for a jerk, idiot, moron, etc.
Now beat it!
A forceful and colloquial way of telling someone to leave.
Virgil gets 10. He is taken not to prison this time, but to
a road gang, where his criminal behavior will cost him dearly.
A "road gang" is a group of prisoners who are chained to each other
at the arms or ankles, who are forced to work outside the prison.
If something will "cost you dearly," you will have to pay a high price
in either money, or in this case, in punishment.
You men come here because you committed crimes
rendering you unfit to live in decent society.
Note in English, a person " commits " a crime (the only verb to use).
"To render" a person is to leave them in a particular state or condition.
If a person is "unfit" for something, they are not qualified for it, or they
are unsuitable or not appropriate for it. "Decent" is an important adjective
meaning good, not bad, or in this case, civilized.
Our job is to get some civilization in you so that when you leave
here, youre going to think twice about performing anti-social acts.
"To think twice" about something is think about it very carefully before
deciding to do it. "Anti-social acts" are any actions that cause society harm,
including obviously, any criminal or violent actions.
Do you think a girl should pet on the first date,
if both parties involved are mature and liberal?
In this case, "to pet" is a dated word for the act of giving and
receiving sexual pleasure by gentle stroking or rubbing.
Do you think you have good enough aim to knock these bracelets off of me?
A persons "aim" is their ability to shoot or point a weapon at a target
with great accuracy. A "bracelet" is a metal piece of jewelry that is worn
around a wrist, or in this case, ankles.
Food on a chain gang is scarce and not very nourishing.
The men get just one hot meal a day; A bowl of steam.
"Scarce" means hard to obtain or of limited supply, and if food is
"nourishing," it is good for your health because it contains the various
things your body needs (like vitamins, protein, etc). "Steam" is the vapor
that water turns into when it is heated to a very hot temperature.
Just whet the hell do you think youre doing?
A common expression added to Wh questions
to show frustration, anger and other emotion.
Dont beat the shadow, you damn fool!
"Damn" is another filler word that is used to show anger of frustration.
A "fool" is a good word for a stupid person or idiot who is easily deceived.
The time drags by in an endless grind of back-breaking labor.
If time "drags by," it moves very slowly (To drag something is to pull it
on the ground). A "grind" is a very tiring job or routine that goes on and on.
"Labor" is another word for physical work.
Brutal discipline is common under the hot sun. The men are
not even permitted to faint without written permission.
"Brutal" is a powerful adjective meaning very cruel or merciless.
"Discipline" is the act of making people follow rules. "To faint" is
to lose consciousness and fall down, perhaps because of being so tired.
Virgil complains, and he is severely tortured. For several days
he is locked in a sweat box with an insurance salesman.
"Severely" is another word for very strict, harsh or perhaps even brutal.
A "sweat box" is a very hot and small container where prisoners are taken
as punishment. The second sentence is, of course, ridiculous.
I think the best thing to do is to get straight life with a little
term. And how about dental and medical? Its a good deal.
"Straight life" and "term" are different types of life insurance.
If something you buy is a "good deal," its inexpensive or a good value.
We could take them by surprise if we all suddenly made a break for it.
If prisoners "make a break for it," they suddenly try to escape.
Youre crazy. :: Thats right, Im a paranoid schizophrenic, but I say we try it.
A term from modern psychology to describe a troubled person who
has difficulty understanding what is real, and what is irrational fear.
My car broke down; Can I use your phone?
If a car or machine breaks down," it stops working or running.
Patrolman Lynch; Can I come in?
A "patrolman" is a police officer who drives in a car, especially one
who works for a state highway patrol, which guards the state highways.
Im checking the area for anything suspicious.
If something is "suspicious," it makes one think that there is something not
right with a situation, or that something wrong or dangerous is happening,
but its not clear what it is.
OK boys, the game is up. :: The old lady must have told.
A slangy way of telling people who are planning to do something illegal or
wrong that "we know what youre about to do, so dont even try it."
Virgil, if you only had listened to me and gone straight.
If a criminal "goes straight," they give up on crime
and try to get a job and live a normal life in society.
If she were my wife, Id belt her one. :: Do you mind keeping out of this please?
"To belt" a person is to hit them forcefully. "To keep
out of" a conversation is to keep quiet and not join in.
These guys are with me for good now!
If a situation is "for good," it will last forever.
You used to make love to me and you used to recite poetry.
"To recite" poetry is to read it out loud.
Will you stop your giggling?
"To giggle" is to laugh gently, with repeated short catchers of breath.
Like "Jesus," a common way to express
anger, frustration and other similar emotions.
Once more, the family takes flight.
"To take flight" is to fly away, or more generally, to leave
quickly, often in order to escape being caught by somebody.
Feeling guilty about their sons education, Louise tries tutoring him.
"To tutor" is to individually teach a person, often in a single subject.
You know, he never made the "10 Most Wanted list." If he
had been a successful criminal, he would have felt better.
"The 10 Most Wanted List" refers to a list the FBI puts up in post offices
across the United States, which describes those 10 suspected criminals that
are considered the most dangerous.
Virgil Starkwell embarks on a series of
crimes that make him a wanted desperado.
"To embark" on a trip is to begin it. A "desperado" is a Spanish word that
refers to any type of extremely desperate person, including a criminal who
is desperately trying to avoid being caught.
He attempts to rob the vault of a bank but
finds a family of gypsies are living there.
In a bank, a "vault" is a large and heavily guarded room
for storing money, jewelry and other valuable things.
Virgil is caught, one last time.
The FBI regards Virgil as a menace.
A "menace" is any person or animal that is considered
dangerous or that could cause great harm.
He does win "Gangster of the Year" award and
is asked to speak at many lunches and universities.
A "gangster" is a criminal involved in organized crime or the Mafia.
The author of the book, Mother was a Red .
Until the 1980s, "red" was a ridiculous colloquial way of
referring to communists or members of any communist party.
Mr. Hoover was quite upset by Mr. Starkwell and
his activities. In fact, he confided to me on occasion...
Mr. Hoover is a reference to J. Edgar Hoover, who was the horrible director
of the FBI from about 1930 to 1970. "To confide in " somebody is to tell them
something very personal or secret, with the understanding that they will not
tell anybody else. "On occasion" means once in a while.
...he thought this criminal, as he put it, might well be part of a subversive plot.
In this context, "as he put it" means as he said it or expressed it.
A "subversive plot" is a plan by dangerous people who may be
trying to harm or even overthrow the government.
Obviously an atheist and a pinko, and they in general try to disturb our society.
An "atheist" is a person who does not believe in God, and a "pinko" was a
silly slang word for a communist. "To disturb" a person is to emotionally
upset or greatly bother them.
We finally traced him to a cheap neighborhood in the lower East Side of
New York, where he was living in a very sleazy run down tenement house.
"To trace" a person is to find them or track them down by exploring where
they had been before. The "Lower East Side" is a part or neighborhood of
New York City. If a building is "sleazy," it is dirty and unpleasant, and if it is
"run down," it is old and in poor condition. A "tenement" is an old, poor building
in a run down neighborhood.
One day he told me he was a gynecologist. He couldnt
speak any foreign languages; Who is he kidding?
A "gynecologist" is a doctor who specializes in womens sexual and reproductive
health. In this context, "to kid" is to try and fool or deceive, or more generally,
to joke around.
Now I think hes brilliant.
A powerful adjective meaning extremely smart.
He was just the best cover-up job Ive ever seen in my life.
In this context, a "cover-up job" is the act of pretending that you are
somebody different than who you really are (To cover-up something is to try
and hide it from the public).
I actually believed he was an idiot.
An excellent word for a stupid person, fool, jerk, etc.
I cant believe there was a mind working in
there that could rob banks! Its a phenomenon.
A "phenomenon" is an exceptional, unusual,
or very interesting person, thing, or occurrence.
We finally captured Virgil under a sort of very odd circumstances.
"Odd" is strange or bizarre and "circumstances" are the facts,
details or conditions of a particular situation or occurrence.
An amateur photographer happened to be there at the
time and took the only known film of his capture.
If a photographer is "amateur," they are not professional, but rather just
learning photography on their own, or taking pictures for their own pleasure.
If somebody "happens to be" in a particular place, they are there just by chance,
but not because they had planned to be. The "capture" of a person is the act of
that person being caught after trying to escape.
This is the spot where it happened.
In this case, another word for place or exact location.
Can you get to the point?
"To get to the point" is to say exactly what you want to communicate,
rather than talking about only somewhat related and unimportant things.
I was trombone. First trombone!
A type of musical instrument in which the player blows air inside.
They were hilarious!
A good alternative to extremely funny.
We painted the car yellow. Right on Halloween!
The holiday on the night of October 31st, in which
children go door to door asking for candy.
It was yellow stripes, like a barber pole!
A "stripe" is a line or long section that is a different color from the
surrounding area. A "barber pole" is a well known object that spins around,
which is often found outside barber shops (where hair is cut).
You fumbled the last play!
In sports, "to fumble" a ball is to accidentally drop it.
I thought they were cheering.
If an audience cheers a performer or player,
it screams or yells in support and excitement.
You cant beat the good old days.
A colloquial way of saying "Life was much better many years ago."
I just realized; Im a cop. Its a great job. I get a pension.
A "cop" is a common slang word for a policeman, and a "pension" is a savings
account for a workers old age, which is created by their employer to pay for
them when they retire.
Virgil Starkwell is tried on 52 counts of robbery
and is sentenced to 800 years in federal prison.
In this context, a "count" is an individual charge of having committed
a crime. If a person is "sentenced" to 10 years, a judge gives them that
many years as a punishment.
With good behavior, he tells his lawyer he can cut the time in half.
Note that if a prisoner behaves well, they can be released early
on parole, before their official sentence is completed.
I think crime definitely pays.
"Crime doesnt pay" is a common expression that is used to try and
convince people that a life of crime is dangerous and not worth it.
What about your cohorts? What ever happened to them?
Your "cohort" is a companion or friend who is involved
in the same crime or other activities as you are.
Ive been doing a lot of stuff in shop lately, and Im very skilled with my hands.
In high school and prison, "shop" refers to practical classes like wood shop
and electrical shop, where students learn how to be carpenters and electricians.
If a person is "skilled," they are talented.
Take the Money and Run
Some Potential Questions for ESL Class Discussion
1. What are the different types of humor that can be seen in this film?
Are all types of humor funny to all types of cultures? Is Woody Allen
considered funny in your country?
2. At the end of the film, Virgil is sentenced to 800 years in prison,
but he tells his lawyer that with good behavior, he can cut his sentence
in half; Is that funny, or just sad?
3. Can there be nice and decent people who are professional criminals?
4. Are there any areas of life that should not be treated with humor?
5. For you, was Virgil funny or just annoying?
6. What did you like and not like about this movie?