Film Flick Friday: Annie Hall

Friday, June 8, 2012

Anhedonia, It Had to Be Jew, A Rollercoaster Named Desire, Me and My Goy- all were possible film titles for one of Woody Allen’s definitive masterpieces. Annie Hall would become the
1977 Best Picture (beating out Star Wars) and, eventually, the American Film Institute’s 31st best American Movie of all time. But it might not have become either if they hadn’t found a title where people knew all the words (for the record, anhedonia means the inability to take pleasure in things). Billed instead as Annie Hall and tag-lined a “neurotic romance,” the film captures something about love in a modern setting that ran true the 70s culture that produced it.

Credited as being a turning point in actor, director and writer Woody Allen’s career, Annie Hall is more than just some good laughs. Its comedy to tackle serious subjects, and many moviegoers have the tantalizing suspicion of it having autobiographical roots. According to Allen, they are a bit off base. “The stuff that people insist is autobiographical is almost invariably not. It's so exaggerated that it's virtually meaningless to the people upon whom these little nuances are based. People got it into their heads that Annie Hall was autobiographical, and I couldn't convince them it wasn't.” True, Annie was co-star Diane Keaton’s nickname, and Hall was her maiden name, she and Allen had had a romantic relationship, and the clothes she wore in the film were her own*. But, in fact, Annie Hall started out life as a screenplay for a murder mystery with the would-be lounge singer as only a minor role- a big leap from real life. Once in production, a lot of improvising happened as well , including Woody Allen sneezing into cocaine, and finding the character Alvy’s childhood home in Brooklyn after spying a house with a roller coaster built over it during a location scouting trip. Perhaps most poignantly though, the ending scene was a last minute addition.


Told in a nonlinear fashion, with many unusual visual storytelling tactics- including a cartoon segment, talking directly the audience,and a literal walk down memory lane- Annie Hall tells the story of Alvy Singer and love in New York City. Though we see sections of story about his previous girlfriends and wives, the story centers on one love in particular- that of Annie. Annie is a WASP in from the midwest, trying to make it as a lounge singer. In her and Alvy we finally have love interests too quirky and nonfunctional to envy. Just because they are a pair of odd ducks though doesn’t make it hard to watch. On the contrary, perhaps their flaws give us hope that all weirdos will find a way, and even if they don’t, well, it's still good entertainment.

*Keaton's fashion sense- displayed beautifully in this film- caused a fashion craze that still reoccurs every few years. But was a style that almost wasn't! The costume designers proclaimed Keaton’s fashion sense as “too weird.”  Check out my own Annie Hall-inspired outfits  here  and here .)

1 comment

  1. it's funny how fashion re-occurs. I'm really enjoying everything you've been wearing in this blog. But otherwise, I'm having a harder time shopping for clothes than I was a few years ago- I feel like a lot of fashion has gone somewhere I don't want to follow. But thank goodness for variety.

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