Annie Hall (Woody Allen) - 1977

This is the first of Woody's autobiographical movies.  And, this is his valentine to Diane Keaton who was probably the love of his life.  Diane Keaton's real name is Diane Hall.  The story is quite simple.  Woody is a comedy writer trying to be a stand-up comic.  Diane is an actor trying to be a singer.  After two failed marriages, Woody meets and dates Diane.  Diane moves in with Woody.  They break up, get back together, and then break up again.  The movie won oscars for best picture, best director (Allen) and best screenplay (Allen).  Diane Keaton won the best actress oscar and became a movie star.  Woody Allen was nominated for best actor but lost to Richard Dreyfuss (Goodbye Girl).

Although there were many humorous lines, Woody traded silliness for style and was rewarded by the critics.  In the movie, Woody used several clever devices and they all worked.  He spoke to the theatre audience.  He spoke to strangers on the street.  He had one character (Diane) leave her body during an intimate scene.  He brought Marshall McLuhan from nowhere to resolve a philosophical dispute.  He also added some animation with Diane playing the wicked queen.

I watched this movie twice in 1977 and did not like it because I was expecting another classic Woody Allen jokefest.  Watching it again after 32 years, I like it much better.  It is a very well made movie.  It established Woody as one of the great American movie makers.  Some of the humor lines are still terrific.  Woody tells a woman that he missed a Dylan concert because his raccoon had hepatitis.  Later, he travels to California (which he hates) and orders alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast in an outdoor cafe.  The humor is there but alas, the silliness is gone - forever.  Paul Simon, Carol Kane, Shelley Duvall, Janet Margolin (See Take The Money And Run), Christopher Walken and Sigourney Weaver had small parts in the movie.  [JAM 11/3/2009]

[" ... Annie Hall was a much-adored picture.  I mean, it's fine, but I've done better pictures than that, though it may have had a warmth, an emotion, that people responded to." Conversations with Woody Allen - Spring 2005]

["When I did Annie Hall, a number of people felt that I had sold out or made a terrible mistake because my type of film was ... that crazy kind of film.  Anything less than a lot of crazy jokes ... would upset them.  I remember it very clearly with Annie Hall because it wasn't just strange goofy letters coming in the mail, it was people who were acquaintances.  Charles Joffe would say to me, 'Gee, my friends wonder why you're wasting time with that.' ... but I always politely say, 'I guess you're right,' and go on doing what I'm doing." Conversations with Woody Allen - Summer 1973]