The One about Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall”

Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall” would always be known as a classic romantic comedy.

In fact, many would say that his 1977 film would be his shining moment within his long list of films in his oeuvre.   For Woody Allen, “Annie Hall” was a film in which the filmmaker and actor wanted delve deeper than he had done in his previous films and sure enough, it would prove to be a success.

“Annie Hall” was nominated for five Academy Awards and won “Best Picture”, “Best Director – Woody Allen”, “Best Actress in a Leading Role – Diane Keaton) and “Best Original Screenplay – Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman”.  The film also won many awards in 1977 and was voted the #2 Romantic Comedy on the American Film Institute’s Top 10 (2008) and 35 in the AFI’s “100 Years…100 Movies” (2007).

In 1992, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

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If you enjoy romantic comedies, “Annie Hall” is definitely one of the great romantic comedy films ever made.

It’s everything that one would want to see in a comedy but most importantly chemistry between its two leads.  As Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan were perfect in “When Harry Met Sally”, Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, who have had a relationship and the fact that he crafted this film around Keaton is a testament to the trust that they had with each other professionally.

Woody Allen took a major step forward by trying to leave the past behind and that includes the one-liners he was best known for, and with the success of those films, the freedom to explore.  The freedom to try something deep and important.  And in this case, with the character of Alvy (which Allen has gone on the record to say that the character is NOT modeled after him) and his self-deprecating humor.

But what I enjoy about the film is its intellectual wit.  From the scene where Alvy and Annie are at the movie theater and are arguing, right behind them is a film teacher going off on Fellini.  Its this type of dialogue that I love to see in a Woody Allen film as we see Woody Allen’s character getting upset by the discussion by a cinema erudite.  We see similar scenes in Allen’s “Manhattan” to even his most recent film “Midnight in Paris”, but it’s the dialogue that was carefully written and the build-up to show how a relationship that started so good, can end up going badly.

“Annie Hall” is an engaging, captivating film in which the character Alvy speaks to the audience (literally) and the way he interacts with people, it lends to the film’s efficacy.  And although we would see “location” take an importance in films such as “Manhattan”, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Midnight in Paris”, “Annie Hall” does try to show New York and Los Angeles (as well as Wisconsin) but its not the city that takes over the scene, it’s the characters.

And speaking of characters, this film would also star talent that would eventually become popular in their own right a few years later.  Talent such as Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Goldblum.

But this is not a romantic comedy in the sense of everything is about happy endings.  This is not the Nora Ephron happy ending, this is the Woody Allen story of a breakup.  Its dialogue was intellectual, accessible and hilarious.  The film was engaging, unique and fresh for its time and it’s my favorite Woody Allen film ever made.

Overall, “Annie Hall” has a magical charm that captivates the viewer.  Unusual storytelling for its time, it was a different kind of romantic comedy and over 30-years later, the film still stands on its own, remains relevant and is a signature of great filmmaking and great writing.  And I highly recommend watching the film!


 

Dennis A. Amith