Let’s Talk About… ‘Annie Hall’ (1977)

Film #70 in FilmExodus’ AFI 100 Movies

Every week FilmExodus does a review/analysis of a different cinematic masterpiece from AFI’s 100 Movies 2007 updated list. For a complete overview and how you can participate, click here.


This movie beat Star Wars for Best Picture?!?!

 Woody Allen’s blatantly auto­biographical, multiple Oscar-winning film (including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actress) is the one that everyone adores and still talks about to this day.

“The victory marked the beginning of Woody Allen’s career as an important filmmaker (his earlier work was funny but slight) and it signaled the end of the 1970s golden age of American movies.” – Roger Ebert

Even though Allen himself thinks he’s made better.

“For some reason that film is very likable,” Allen said. “I’ve made better films than that.” – 2017 Entertainment Weekly interview

Allen’s fictionalized account of a nervous relationship between cynical, Jewish New York comic Alvy Singer (Allen) and overly extroverted, struggling nightclub singer Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) is known to be the benchmark of Allen’s ability for writing unique and touchingly funny screen comedy. It is a familiar hopeless romance story, filled with Allen’s neurotic and self deprecating humor.  I for one think it is one of his most accessible and better films.

The plot of the film is a simple one. It revolves around Alvy’s accounts of lost loves and reflecting on his failed relationship with Annie. Yes, Annie Hall doesn’t have a fairy tale ending, but “I mean, that’s what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.”

In a series of flashbacks we see aspects of Alvy’s childhood and stages of his relationship with Annie, such as the first time they have sex, where afterwards he is “a wreck”, while she relaxes with a joint or them trying to boil a lobster for dinner. Annie admits she loves him, but his obsession with death is too much for her. They eventually break up, and he returns to dating, but his attempt is spoiled by his neurosis, bad sex, and finally an interruption from Annie, who insists he come over immediately to kill a spider. Reconciling to stay together no matter what. However, after separate discussions with their therapists (one she never needed before dating Alvy) they agree that their relationship isn’t working.

At the end of the film, we see Alvy try his hand at stage-writing-he writes a play about his relationship with Annie, but gives them a happy ending.

Love is essential, especially if it is neurotic.”

 

But in all seriousness… This movie beat Star Wars for Best Picture?!?!

Don’t get me wrong, I really do like this film. It’s very likeable. Eventhough, I’m not a huge Woody Allen fan, this film is an extremely good one and it helped shape romantic comedies to come. It’s just that I saw Star Wars first and it shaped me more at an early age than this film ever did. I didn’t see it until I was much older. And good thing too, I was able to grasp its meaning better as someone who was old enough to date and fall in love for the first (and not the last) time.


Trivia

  • “Annie Hall” grossed about $40 million–less than any other modern best picture winner, and less than the budgets of many of them.
  • Truman Capote has a cameo as the Winner of the Truman Capote look-alike contest.
  • Diane Keaton’s real name is Diane Hall and her nickname is Annie.
  • Alvy’s sneezing into the cocaine was an unscripted accident. When previewed, the audience laughed so loud that director Allen decided to leave it in, and had to add footage to compensate for people missing the next few jokes from laughing too much.
  • The scene where Alvy and Annie are at their psychiatrists, which looks like a split screen scene, was actually shot simultaneously on one set with an adjoining wall.