Manhattan (Woody Allen) -1979

Manhattan is Woody's valentine to New York, the city he loves.  The film is a series of beautiful black-and-white images of the city with the New York Philharmonic playing George Gershwin music in the background under of direction of Zubin Mehta.  The cinematography by Gordon Willis is stunning.  I cannot think of another black-and-white movie that is as visually pleasing from start to end.

Twice-divorced Woody is a television writer who is dating a high school girl (Mariel Hemingway) who talks like Jerry the mouse and looks way-too-much like her grandfather.  Woody's ex-wife (Meryl Streep) left him for another woman and is now writing a tell-all book about their failed marriage.  Woody's best friend (Michael Murphy) is cheating on his wife with once-divorced Diane Keaton who is not liked by Woody at the first meeting.  Murphy dumps Keaton ("I'm beautiful and I'm bright and I deserve better.") and Woody dumps Hemingway for Keaton.  And then, things really get complicated.

Look for small parts by Michael O'Donoghue (1940-1994) of National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live, Congresswoman Bella Abzug (1920-1998), and Tisa Farrow (Mia's younger sister). [JAM 11/9/2009]

[" ... I had a real urge to show New York as a wonderland and I completely fulfilled that feeling in Manhattan." Conversations with Woody Allen - June 1987]

["It may be completely true that these are not real people, just as the depictions of Manhattan I've offered up are not necessarily real in the sense that they're naturalistic.  But obviously there was something about the people in Manhattan that resonated everywhere - France, Japan, South America." Conversations with Woody Allen - April 2005]

[" ... In Manhattan I had the music first and was sometimes doing the scenes to fit the music ... I wrote specifically to accommodate music.  I knew I wanted a block of musical indulgence, and a number of times I would stretch things out so I could leave myself a lot of room to do a big dose of Gershwin ... I very consciously extended scenes to create space on the screen to play it." Conversations with Woody Allen - November 1989]

["The fact is, when I first chose to portray New York as a character in a movie in a significant way, in Manhattan, I made the film in black and white because most of those movies I grew up on were in black and white.  In those films you would see nightclubs and the kind of streets we've been talking about; actors would be walking on Riverside Drive or on Park Avenue, or coming out of their houses with furs on and getting out of cabs ... where Jimmy Stewart goes through the park in that movie ... is exactly where I placed the scene with Mariel Hemingway and myself in the horse-drawn cab ... I feel I owe nothing to reality in my movies in that sense.  That's my vision of the city and I'm creating a work of fiction, and that's what I want to create." Conversations with Woody Allen - February 2006]