Stardust Memories (Woody Allen) - 1980

With his second consecutive black-and-white movie, Woody presents his ultimate autobiographical story.  He is the successful comedian and director who doesn't want to make funny movies anymore.  He is besieged by fans and opportunists who want his autograph, his time and his approval.  In the present, there is no story except for his relationships with Charlotte Rampling, Marie-Christine Barrault and Jessica Harper.  His life between movies is interspersed with flashbacks and dream sequences revealing his numerous neuroses.  All of this is a movie within a movie that starts and ends in a theater.  The photography by Gordon Willis is excellent and almost as spectacular as in Manhattan.

The 22-year-old Sharon Stone made her first movie appearance as the unattainable woman in the other train.  Woody Allen regulars Tony Roberts and ex-wife Louise Lasser had small parts.  In a very large cast of fans and acquaintances, Brent Spiner ("Data"), Daniel Stern, Laraine Newman (SNL), Jack Rollins (real-life agent & producer), Judith Crist (film critic) and many others pop in and out of scenes.

Although the movie is about a film maker who does not want to make funny movies anymore, there is terrific Woody Allen humor throughout - mostly in the flashback scenes.  Woody complains to his maid/cook that: "I don't eat rodents" when she tries to feed him rabbit.  He also comments that: "pigeons are rats with wings."  In one non sequitur dream sequence "Sidney Finklestein's hostility has escaped."  His sister's husband has a bell on his exerciser.  Woody counters a comment about his atheism with: "To God I'm the loyal opposition."  He also communicates with aliens who travel by balloon and complains that his parents would not buy him an elephant.  He can't help it.  [JAM 11/22/2009]

[" ... Stardust Memories put people off and over the years the audience got more and more uncomfortable with me, unsure of what my next movie might be and less assured they'd enjoy it." Conversations with Wood Allen - January 2000]

[" ... Stardust Memories preceded John Lennon (1940-1980) getting shot, because I felt there was that ambivalent feeling between the audience and the celebrity.  The audience worships the celebrity and on the one hand cuts the celebrity much more slack than the celebrity deserves, merits, or earns ... They idolize them and they're also dangerous." Conversations with Woody Allen - February 2006]

["Gordon and I liked to work in black and white and I wanted to make a picture about an artist who theoretically should be happy.  He has everything in the world - health, success, wealth, notoriety - but in fact he doesn't have anything, he's very unhappy.  The point of the story is that he can't get used to the fact that he's mortal and that all his wealth and fame and adulation are not going to preserve him in any meaningful way - he, too, will age and die.  At the beginning of the movie you see him wanting to make a serious statement even though he is really a comic-filmmaker." Conversations with Woody Allen - November 2005]