Annie Hall (Woody Allen) 1977
What can I really say about Annie Hall that probably hasn’t already been said? It encapsulates the very best of Allen and is an all time classic. This is the movie that beat out Star Wars at the Academy Awards for Best Picture (one of the few comedies to win Best Picture), and unlike Ordinary People beating Raging Bull, I don’t hear people bitching about that. I’m sure though I immediately damned myself to endless bitching now about how Star Wars was robbed but I’m not here to debate that. The point is Allen moved past being a great comedy writer to making a truly classic film.
Annie Hall is partially about Woody’s real life relationship (as many later works are pseudo autobiographical works) but it was always surprising to me how much they resonated with me. I’m not saying I’m like Woody’s character or that I have done anything in the movie but how the same feelings resonate. We go through the life and death of Alvy’s relationship with Annie Hall through all the good, bad, and all the weird moments in between. Even though I’ve never done the wacky things Alvy does, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel the same things he did during some of my relationships. For example, when Alvy and Annie break up (what they think is mutually) because they think there are greener pastures only for Alvy to practically immediately regret his decision. There is that broad sway of emotions to being excited around one another to being pissed off at all the little things. In the end you look back at the whole thing with a wistful perspective. I realize that my relationship would never have worked and memory has a way of making you diminish the bad parts while having you recall more fondly the good parts. In the end, you realize it was fun while it lasted, close that particular chapter in your life, and move onto the rest of your life.
Of course all that introspective crap is made hilarious by Woody’s great writing. Whether it is about couples arguing, or existential drama, or those petty everyday annoyances, Woody has a great gag about it. One of my favorite scenes is when he gets in an argument with someone in line at a theater and to prove the person has no idea what Marshal McLuhan was saying, he brings out the real person to tell him he is full of it. Recently I’m seeing someone who asked if I could come over and kill a spider to which I replied “Is it the size of a Buick?” and was met with a lengthy silence reserved only for those who make a reference which flies directly over the person’s head. Anyway…
If you need no other reason than it is funny, you should watch this movie. Allen was on top form as he delivers one liner after one liner; all that are memorable. Of course, how could I not mention Diane Keaton? She was in previous Allen movies and I always thought she was a great foil for Allen’s manic routine. Here she delivers a wonderful performance and is a truly memorable character.
I hope this review was alright but I always have trouble spelling out why a classic is great. I also hate further hyping up a classic as I know expectations can be a bitch. That being said, if you haven’t seen Annie Hall, just go out and do it. I don’t know how a Woody Allen fan (or even a non-fan) can go this long without at least checking it out. In addition to being extremely funny, it is also a sweet and thoughtful romantic comedy. Up next on the Woody retrospective is Interiors.