#88) Annie Hall (1977)

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#88) Annie Hall (1977)

OR “What’s It All About, Alvy?”

Directed by Woody Allen

Written by Allen and Marshall Brickman

Class of 1992

The Plot: Woody Allen-esque comedian Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) has just turned 40 and is starting to wonder where his life went wrong. Most especially, he is trying to pinpoint why his relationship with aspiring singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) eventually broke down. Through comic analysis and plenty of Fourth Wall breaking, Alvy looks at his unhappy childhood, his two previous marriages, and his love of New York vs. his hatred of L.A., but he ultimately keeps coming back to everything he had with Annie. Oh, and there’s a large vibrating egg at one point.

Why It Matters: The NFR calls it “Allen’s most mature and personal film” and includes an essay by Boston Globe film critic Jay Carr.

But Does It Really?: As difficult as it is for me to separate the art from the artist, I have always thought that “Annie Hall” is a great film. It may in fact be Woody’s best film, the perfect melding of his “early, funny” films and his later, more sophisticated films. It is an artist’s self-analysis without being egotistic, and a romantic comedy without being sappy or predictable. Keaton and Allen anchor the film with their performances; she is endearing, he is surprisingly charming, and you never lose sight of why these two love each other. Woody has done some bad things in his day, but “Annie Hall” is not one of them.

Shout Outs: Quick references to “The Godfather” and “The Wizard of Oz”, plus an animated parody of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (though I don’t recall the Evil Queen having see-through nipples).

Everybody Gets One: Legendary stage actor Colleen Dewhurst, as well as fellow theater people Tony Roberts, Janet Margolin and John Glover. And of course, Marshall McLuhan.

Wow, That’s Dated: Such ‘70s things as EST, Uri Geller, and casual coke habits. Plus a joke about Annie’s rent being an astronomical $400 definitely doesn’t land today.

Seriously, Oscars?: In a head-to-head competition with “Star Wars”, “Annie Hall” took home four Oscars in four major categories; Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, and Actress for Keaton. The only category they lost was Best Actor for Woody, who still won two Oscars he couldn’t care less about. The film received no technical nominations, meaning no love for editor Ralph Rosenblum and (of course) cinematographer Gordon Willis.

Other notes

  • First off, a shout-out to the great film editor Ralph Rosenblum. If you can track it down I recommend his book “When the Shooting Stops…The Cutting Begins: A Film Editor’s Story”. Rosenblum relates the individual challenges that he encountered while editing such films as “The Pawnbroker”, “A Thousand Clowns” and many of Woody’s early films. Most of what we know now as “Annie Hall” was found in the cutting room.
  • This is one of the first films to include the standard “Woody Allen Opening Credits”: white Windsor typeface against a black backdrop. Later films will include the now-required ‘40s mood music.
  • No Alvy, the worst thing I can say about you isn’t “balding”.
  • For the record, everything said by the man on line at the movie theater is everything this blog is against. No film snobbery or mansplaining here, I can promise you that.
  • It’s fun to see Carol Kane in a role as far removed from “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” as possible. Run Lillian!
  • Oh, Janet Margolin. She was Woody’s leading lady in “Take the Money and Run” and is seen here as Alvy’s second wife. She is best remembered for her brief role as the prosecuting attorney in “Ghostbusters II”. She left us much too soon.
  • But seriously, how could you not fall in love with Annie Hall? Diane Keaton’s performance is pretty damn flawless in this film.
  • I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the line “That’s okay, we can walk to the curb from here.” I am also 12 and greatly enjoy the phrase “quietly humping”.
  • Can anyone confirm that that really is Truman Capote?
  • For those of you unfamiliar with Diane Keaton’s actual singing abilities, she was in the original Broadway cast of “Hair”.
  • Christopher Walken man. Christopher Walken. To see the birth of his film persona is always a thing of beauty. And to think they almost cut this scene.
  • Geez, even in people’s dreams Sinatra is a jerk to women. Are we sure that this wasn’t the dream of Sinatra ex/future Woody ex Mia Farrow?
  • Did Paul Simon just name drop Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston?
  • This film accurately portrays what Christmastime is like in Southern California.
  • So Rob acts and produces this sitcom? I guess they never explicitly say what he does out in L.A.
  • Quick shout out to Masters and Johnson before they were Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.
  • That “dead shark” line man. Woody was right on the money with that one. I’m surprised that’s not the line people quote from “Annie Hall”.
  • Rob is upset because he was going to make it with two 16 year-olds. WOODY WAS TRYING TO WARN US THIS WHOLE TIME!
  • This film is a buffet of “Before They Were Famous”. Jeff Goldblum is the partygoer who forgets his mantra, Beverly D’Angelo is the actress in Rob’s sitcom, and Sigourney Weaver is Alvy’s date at the very end. And THAT’S why the Oscars should have a Casting category.

Legacy

  • Diane Keaton (and possibly Ralph Lauren) created a late ‘70s fashion trend with Annie Hall’s clothing.
  • “When Harry Met Sally…”: Homage, disciple or carbon copy? You be the judge.
  • And of course, every Woody Allen film since this one. Most notably, the one where Woody and Diane get back together to solve a murder!

7 thoughts on “#88) Annie Hall (1977)”

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