Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Far Out Films From The Seventies: Annie Hall

The Original Version Of This Article Appeared Here At Moon In The Gutter.

Annie Hall isn't my favorite Woody Allen film, although I don't think it is a bad choice as one. I would probably take Hannah and Her Sisters or Manhattan over it but Annie Hall is the one film Woody Allen has made in his career that everyone seems to agree on. It is also the film that introduced me to the wonderful, and sometimes frustrating, world of Woody Allen so in that respect it will always be among the most special to me.
This ode to a failed but ultimately haunting relationship won four 1977 Academy awards including Picture, Screenplay, Director and a best actress statue for Diane Keaton as the iconic title character. Woody Allen was even nominated for Best Actor for his incredible turn as Alvie Singer but lost to Richard Dreyfuss.
It is fitting considering the subject matter of Annie Hall that some of my finest, and most vivid, memories of Annie Hall involve women in my life. I have found that inevitably my love for Woody Allen will always come up in a relationship and Annie Hall is always the film I show as an introduction and explanation.
I have yet to have shown the film to someone that didn't love it as it almost plays like a virtual greatest hits movie. Annie Hall is a film with so many memorable moments that I am always struck upon each new viewing by a moment where I will think, "wow, that scene is from this film too". Everything from the Marshall McLuhan cameo to the lobster scene to the subtitled thoughts moment to the Christopher Walken and Shelly Duval sections are here. The film almost feels like part of my DNA at this point and has come to play a major part in my life. Watching Annie Hall is almost like pulling out an old family photo album to show someone I am with where I came from, and perhaps also to remind myself of that very thing when I need to.
I think one thing that makes Annie Hall so special is that it is the film where Woody Allen perfectly melds together his more 'serious' cinema with his earlier 'funny' films. It is a more grown up work than Bananas but it isn't as bitter as Stardust Memories. It marks a perfect moment for not only Woody Allen but for many of its fans.
Putting all of its most famous moments aside the film fittingly belongs to the enigmatic Diane Keaton. It is often forgotten just how wonderful an actress Keaton is, but this role serves as a bracing reminder. Consider the fact that she made Annie Hall the same year as the viciously disturbing Looking For Mr. Goodbar and just a couple of years after her turn opposite Al Pacino in The Godfather films.
Annie Hall is, perhaps ironically, the character that she has never quite recovered from, for many of us and perhaps for Ms. Keaton herself she will never be more sublime and perfect as she was in this film. The moment towards the end where she sings Seems Like Old Times is one of the most moving and cemented images in film history, and it still tears me up every time I see it.
Many film fans think that Star Wars should have won best picture for 1977 and I have had several arguments with some of them over the years. I still love Star Wars but for all that film meant to me as a youth Annie Hall has meant even more to me as an adult.
Woody Allen has made many films since Annie Hall, some great and some not. Annie Hall remains, if not his greatest work, his most endearing. Just past her and my own 30th birthday I send her good wishes and thanks for a dream she continues to whisper.


Rogue Spy 007 said...

This is not my favorite Woody Allen film. That is probably Hannah and Her Sisters, but this is one that I loved. I think it might have been the first film of his I saw. My mom always loved this film. She's a big Diane Keaton fan. This film hits all the right marks. Allen really knew what he was doing here. Keaton was outstanding. He's been hit and miss over the years. Looking a film like this reminds one of how much of a genius he is.

Steve Langton said...

This will most likely always reside in my top 3 Woody films, along with MANHATTAN and HANNAH. My experience of this film had always been on the small screen until a couple of years ago when my local Indie cinema screened it as part of a Allen season. Great to share this with a large audience.Really enjoyed your look at this film.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith...Hannah might be my fav as well. It is a tough call between that Annie and Manhattan.
Thanks for your personal memories...

Thanks Steve,
That's great that you got to see it on the big screen. Unfortunately the only Woody films I have seen at a theater are the ones from the early nineties on and like Keith said that batch has been pretty hit and miss.