The final recommendation following Manhattan in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book is the Academy Award winning Annie Hall.
And while even now, I don’t understand how this film beat out Star Wars for best picture, I can admit it was pretty good. Except for the fact that I don’t think Woody Allen can act, he seems to be the same character in every film he makes, and I think I would have enjoyed this one so much more if he had cast someone else, other than himself, in the lead role of Alvy.
Alvy, surprise, surprise, is a neurotic comedian, and through the course of the film, which has some really delightful flashbacks, and great writing, we see his relationship with the initially ditsy, but endearing, Annie Hall (Diane Keaton).
As the relationship grows, the two grow apart, until they lose what they initially had, both of them walking away changed people. Keaton won an Academy Award for her performance, and it is a delight to watch, she looks like she’s having a great time, and she does wonders with Allen’s material while acting circle around him.
One of my favorite segments features Annie and Alvy’s initial meeting, and both of them trying to make themselves sound smarter than they are, all of which is brilliantly subtitled with their actual thoughts.
When, after Alvy’s encouragement, Annie becomes better educated, and more confident, a new career opens up before her, and Alvy is left to deal with the things he changed in her taking effect and leading her away from him.
We see the entire course of their relationship, through meeting at tennis, to their final goodbye, along the way, we get a look at Alvy’s past relationships and growing up, and, as mentioned, there are a lot of funny moments ( I particularly like the asides to the camera, especially when Alvy and Annie are waiting in the line at the movies).
Much like Manhattan, this film feels like a love letter to New York as much as it is a character comedy, and it plays as much of a character as anyone else in the film, and it actually looks more inviting than any of the material that is set in Los Angeles, leaving you to wonder, much like Alvy, why would anyone move there? Allen has a great eye for image and dialogue, and as such the film works wonderfully, I just can’t abide his acting…
The film is also packed with recognizable names, Jeff Goldblum has a blink and you miss it line of dialogue, Paul Simon, Christopher Walken, Shelley Duvall, Carol Kane, and Tony Roberts. Allen’s material definitely attracts the talented, and I can openly admit, I am not harboring a dislike for his films like I was before, and I find myself willing to sit down and check out more of them, so what are your favorite Woody Allen films to watch.
Just to be clear though, Star Wars still should have won Best Picture that year.