A New Direction

 

- The first cut of Annie Hall ran 2 hours and 20 minutes and took almost six weeks to assemble, although Allen had shot enough footage to make three movies! Editor Ralph Rosenblum and his assistant Susan E. Morse were assigned the task of condensing 100,000 feet of footage to a 93-minute running time. But their first cut was severely disappointing to Allen and Brickman who quickly saw the strengths and weaknesses of their concept magnified.

 

-In fact, Brickman considered the first twenty-five minutes "a disaster." But Allen quickly stepped in to restructure and whittle down numerous sequences: The opening monologue was reduced to six minutes, sections dealing with Alvy's first and second wives (Carol Kane and Janet Margolin) were reduced to brief flashbacks, and the tennis club sequence toward the beginning of the film was placed 24 minutes into the film.

 

- But when Allen decided to structure the film around Alvy's relationship with Annie (Diane Keaton), the film suddenly cohered into something more than a comedy and more than a romance. Inspired by Allen's own romance with Keaton (whose real name is Hall), Annie Hall charts the rise and fall of Singer's relationship with the titular character, punctuated with bits of unrestrained comedy, celebrity cameos (Marshall McLuhan, Dick Cavett, Paul Simon, etc.) and moments of poignant truth. It was a bittersweet blend that was to become Allen's trademark. [3]

 

-There is a lot of talk about how Allen restructured the film and found its focus. In “The Unruly Life of Woody Allen: A Biography,” the author states, “ that editor Ralph Rosenblum was the one responsible for finding the film’s focus. He was the one that made the drastic cuts to the film and decided Woody’s and Diane’s character was the true focus of the film. [4]

-Annie Hall is the one Woody Allen movie that everyone has seen, and probably the most discussed, analyzed, talked about, and imitated romantic comedy of all time. [2]

-Annie Hall opens with white, Windsor Light credits rolling over a solid black background. This, of course, is pretty much how all Woody Allen movies will open from now on. [2]

 

-“Its costs no money at all. It really got out of hand in the United States…producers would put aside $2500,000 for the title sequence. I also wanted to go against making it a special event when my films came out. I just want to make a lot of films and keep putting them out. And I don’t want to be: ‘Oh, it’s the new Woody Allen flim! Two years I’ve been waiting for it.’ I just want to turn them out -  and that’s it!” [5]

 

- Woody said at the time of the film’s premiere, "I wanted it to be about...real people, real problems besetting some fairly neurotic characters trying to exist in male-female relationships in America in 1977. So it turns out to be more serious than anything I've ever tried before." [3]

 

-This is the first time that we’ve seen Woody Allen playing a believable person in a modern world setting (although “Play It Again, Sam” tried), and it’s amazing how well he transitions. Instead of being fodder for jokes in, say, the future or 19th-Century Russia, his anxieties are that of a real character. [2]

 

-“It was a picture about me,” Woody said. “My life, my thoughts, my ideas, my background.” As much as [Woody] disliked the idea of using autobiographical material, he felt the need to take risks and try something different. What he envisioned was a film that would make people take him seriously. [4]

 

-Annie Hall was co-written by Allen’s friend Marshall Brickman, who also co-wrote three other Woody Allen movies (Sleeper, Manhattan, 1993’s Manhattan Murder Mystery), and Allen has claimed that Alvy Singer is based just as much, if not more so, on Brickman than on himself. [2]

 

- Woody Allen and co-writer Marshall Brickman came up with the majority of the Annie Hall screenplay by walking up and down the streets of New York City, specifically between Lexington and Madison Avenues. [3] They would go to lunch or dinner and talk and talk. Woody would then take all the ideas and write the script. He’s show it to Brickman would make comments and Woody would take another stab at it. [5]

 

-Allen’s 1965-1975 movies were about being funny — that is, their ultimate purpose, be it through jokes, situations or plots, was to generate laughter. In Annie Hall, the goal is to tell a story about characters, and the humor emerges as a by-product. [2]

 

- It’s ironic, then, that Annie Hall is an innovative movie for its unadulterated look at the seemingly mundane, but relatable and integral, parts of relationships. [2]

 

-There is no attempt to romanticize him as a character; he’s just a realistic, self-centered, smart, needy, funny, anxious and ultimately relatable man living in a messy, modern America.

-After five pictures, filmed in California, Colorado, Puerto Rico, Paris and Budapest, he finally got to live at home and shoot his first film in NYC. From this film on, he completely became a New York based filmmaker. He drew on local talent, many of whom would become regulars in this films for 20 years. [4]

 

- The budget for Annie Hall was $3 million when production began and slowly swelled to $4 million. The shooting schedule began at Long Island's South Fork and was kept secret from the media. Soon, Allen and his crew were filming all over New York City. [3]

 

-“Right, I really feel like it was a turning point for me. I had the courage to abandon…just clowning around in the safety of complete broad comedy. I said to myself, ‘I think I will try and make some deeper film and not be as funny in the same way. And maybe there will be some other values that will emerge, that will be interesting or nourishing for the audience.’ And it worked out well.” –Woody Allen [5]

 

-“Well, two things happened on “Annie Hall.” One was that I reached some kind of personal plateau where I felt I could put the film that I had done in the past behind me.  And I wanted to take a step forward toward more realistic and deeper films…From then on, I really count “Annie Hall” as the first step toward maturity in some way in making films. - Woody Allen [5]

 

"Annie Hall" Screening Companion

-Released in United States April 20, 1987

-Runtime: 93 mins

-Production Company: A Jack Rollins-Charles H. Joffe Production

-Distributor: United Artists

-Rated PG

- Budget: $4 million (estimated) [1]

-Gross: $39.2 million [1]

- Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1

Cut Scenes

 

-Among [other] scenes later eliminated were: segments showing Alvy's former classmates in the present day; Alvy as a teenager; a scene in a junk-food restaurant (featuring Danny Aiello); extensive additional scenes featuring Carol Kane, Janet Margolin, Colleen Dewhurst and Shelley Duvall; and a fantasy segment at Madison Square Garden featuring the New York Knicks competing against a team of five great philosophers. Christopher Walken's driving scene was also cut, but was restored a week before the film was completed. New material for the ending was filmed on three occasions, but most was discarded. The final montage was a late addition. [1]

 

-Some scenes were completely eliminated like a French Resistance fantasy, a spoof on Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), an elaborate sports fantasy involving the Knickerbockers' and shot on location at Madison Square Garden, and a surreal takeoff on the 1946 film, Angel on My Shoulder. [3]

 

-One scene cut from the film is a fantasy sequence of Annie and Alvy visiting hell. This scene was rewritten 20 years later for Allen's “Deconstructing Harry.” [1]

 

-Woody Allen originally filmed a scene in which a traffic advisory sign "urges" Alvy to go to Annie in California. Editor Ralph Rosenblum wrote that Allen was so disgusted by the scene's cuteness that he took the footage and threw it into the East River. The traffic-sign motif was later used in Steve Martin's “L.A. Story.” [1]

 

-The ending of “Annie Hall” also proved to be highly problematic for Allen. He wanted to end the film with the jailhouse scene where he is desperate to be reunited with Annie in Hollywood. Rosenblum urged him to reconsider and Allen eventually shot new footage for the final segment. In his biography, Woody: Movies From Manhattan, Julian Fox wrote "One sequence, where Alvy and Annie meet awkwardly outside the Thalia, again showing The Sorrow and the Pity, was, said Rosenblum, 'a real downer,' and was eventually confined to a single long shot, reducing Sigourney Weaver's cameo as Alvy's date to an imperceptible walk-on...Another sequence, shot on the last day of filming, had Alvy in Times Square wondering what to do about Annie, when he looks up at a flashing sign which reads, 'What are you doing, Alvy? Go to California. It's OK. She loves you.' Viewing the scene in dailies, Woody hated it so much he went to the nearest reservoir and threw the reels in. It was Rosenblum, prompted by Woody's chance remark on the denouement of the original murder script, who finally suggested ending the film on a continuation of Alvy's opening monologue - with a brief series of flashbacks to the Annie affair, accompanied by Alvy's final voice-over." [3]

Trivia

 

-Alvy's (Woody Allen's) sneezing into the cocaine was an unscripted accident. When previewed, the audience laughed so loud that director Allen decided to leave it in, and had to add footage to compensate for people missing the next few jokes from laughing too much. [1]

 

-The first scene shot was the lobster scene. [1]

 

-During the lobster-cooking scene Annie runs and retrieves a camera to take pictures of Alvy dealing with the crustaceans. Later, when Alvy runs over to Annie's house to smash a spider, the series of photos Annie took is on the wall in the background. [1]

 

-Diane Keaton's real name is Diane Hall and her nickname is Annie. [1]

 

-Annie's outfits, which caused a brief fashion rage, were Diane Keaton's own clothes. [1]

 

-The wardrobe lady apparently begged Woody Allen not to allow Diane Keaton to wear her own clothes, telling him she would look “ridiculous.” Allen disagreed, saying he liked her style and that it worked for her character. [2]

 

-Alvy never says "I love you" to Annie. The closest he comes is when Alvy says love isn't a strong enough word for how he feels. [1]

 

-The scene where Alvy and Annie are at their psychiatrists, which looks like a split screen scene, was actually shot simultaneously on one set with an adjoining wall. [1]

-Allen wanted Fellini to make the cameo instead of Marshall McLuhan, but Fellini turned him down. [2]

 

- Casting for this movie was done by Juliet Taylor, who has cast every Woody Allen movie since. [2]

 

-The film's working title was "Anhedonia" - the inability to feel pleasure. United Artists fought against it (among other things, they were unable to come up with an ad campaign that explained the meaning of the word) and Woody Allen compromised on naming the film after the central character three weeks before the film's premiere. Other titles suggested were "It Had to Be Jew", "A Rollercoaster Named Desire", and "Me and My Goy". [1]

 

-Allen says he gets approached "all the time" about making a sequel to Annie Hall,[31] but has repeatedly declined. He admitted in a 1992 interview that for a time he considered it, saying,  “I did think once—I'm not going to do it—but I did think once that it would be interesting to see Annie Hall and the guy I played years later. Diane Keaton and I could meet now that we're about twenty years older, and it could be interesting, because we parted, to meet one day and see what our lives have become. But it smacks to me of exploitation.... Sequelism has become an annoying thing. I don't think Francis Coppola should have done Godfather III because Godfather II was quite great. When they make a sequel, it's just a thirst for more money, so I don't like that idea so much.” [5]

Critical Reception

 

-Critics fell all over themselves praising Annie Hall when it opened theatrically. The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner hailed it as Woody Allen's "wittiest, best film to date, both more socially and personally observant in its departure into the foibles and traumas of a human relationship."

 

-Women in particular seemed to be crazy about the film, and for the first time Woody began to attract a devoted female audience. [4]

 

-Annie Hall ended up as Woody Allen’s biggest hit, making over $25 million [4] or $40 million dollars. [2] Over $100 million with worldwide grosses factored in. [4] Woody is fond of pointing out, however, the picture earned less than any other Academy Award-winning best picture. [4]

 

-“Annie Hall” ranked Number 31 of the American Film’s Institute’s 1998 list of the best 100 movies ever made. [4]

-Annie Hall ranked #2 (after Chaplin’s City Lights) on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Romantic Comedy." [1]

 

-Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time" in 2006. [1]

 

-Roger Ebert for The Chicago Sun Times wrote, "Willis utilized long takes, with some shots, unabridged, lasting an entire scene. Allen has commented, "It just seems more fun and quicker and less boring for me to do long scenes." For Ebert, they add to the dramatic power of the film, saying, "Few viewers probably notice how much of Annie Hall consists of people talking, simply talking. They walk and talk, sit and talk, go to shrinks, go to lunch, make love and talk, talk to the camera, or launch into inspired monologues like Annie's free-association as she describes her family to Alvy. This speech by Diane Keaton is as close to perfect as such a speech can likely be ... all done in one take of brilliant brinkmanship." He cites a study that calculated the average shot length of Annie Hall to be 14.5 seconds, while other films made in 1977 had an average shot length of 4–7 seconds."

 

- Other filmmakers have filled the void with thinly-veiled clones of Allen's distinctive comedies (such as Rob Reiner's “When Harry Met Sally” (1989) and Billy Crystal's “Forget Paris,” 1995), but Annie Hall stands as a romantic-comedy original upon which there can be no improvement. [3]

 

-"Annie Hall" contains more intellectual wit and cultural references than any other movie ever to win the Oscar; for best picture, and in winning the award in 1977 it edged out "Star Wars," an outcome unthinkable today....This is a movie that establishes its tone by constantly switching between tones: The switches reflect the restless mind of the filmmaker, turning away from the apparent subject of a scene to find the angle that reveals the joke. "Annie Hall" is a movie about a man who is always looking for the loopholes in perfection. Who can turn everything into a joke, and wishes he couldn't." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. [3]

 

-In Saturday Review, Judith Crist called it "Allen's most satisfying creation and our most gratifying comedic experience in recent years." In Time, Richard Schickel opined that it is "a ruefully romantic comedy that is at least as poignant as it is funny and may be the most autobiographical film ever made by a major comic." [3]

 

-In Newsweek, Janet Maslin saw the film as "bracingly adventuresome and unexpectedly successful, with laughs as satisfying as those in any of Allen's other movies and a whole new staying power." [3]

 

-Even Stanley Kauffmann, no Woody Allen fan, wrote in The New Republic that "the cheery news (is) he has written his best film script and he is now a competent director." Curmudgeonly critic Pauline Kael called it "the neurotic's version of Abie's Irish Rose." [3]

 

-M.J. Sobran, Jr. at the National Review dismissed the film when he wrote, "What it finally comes to is ninety minutes of coitus interruptus, fun but fruitless. Annie Hall may look like a comedy or a romance, but it's really a tsuris trap." The New York Daily News warned that "Annie Hall will likely be a trifle disconcerting for audiences who've been reduced to tears of laughter by Woody Allen; his new comedy is so tinged with sadness it tends to encourage actual weeping." [3]

 

-Critic John Simon went in the negative direction when he complained that the film is "everything we never wanted to know about Woody's sex life and were afraid he'd tell us anyway." [3]

 

-"It's safe to say that every Woody Allen film has a cult following. But only “Annie Hall” is loved - loved is the correct word - by every Allen fan, as well as those obstinate moviegoers who still won't concede Allen is a great filmmaker....I think it is the film that generates the most warmth among Allen fans, for it was the pivotal film of his career...Annie Hall marked Allen's transition from a functional and slapdash, though instinctively funny, filmmaker to one who is technically innovative, thematically sophisticated, intent on capturing the beauty of the women and the city (New York) he loves, eager to explore his characters, and passionate about using this storytelling medium to its fullest." - Danny Peary, Cult Movies . [3]

 

-Influential New York Times’ film critic Vincent Canby, called Woody in his column, “America’s Ingmar Bergman.” Canby’s was one critic Woody valued praised from. After that remark he took it as gospel. After he wrote those words he explained, “What I meant was that his place in American cinema is like Bergman’s in Sweden. As a personal filmmaker he towers over everybody else. Nobody has ever come close to him. [4]

 

-98% Rotten Tomatoes rating

Academy Awards

 

“Annie Hall” was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay. It won all of them but Best Actor.

 

-Diane Keaton also won an Academy Award for her performance, which is probably the closest anyone’s ever come to winning an Oscar for playing themselves. Woody Allen also became the second person since Orson Welles (for” Citizen Kane”) to get nominations for acting, writing and directing in the same year, and the movie also won Best Picture, beating out “Star Wars” (which apparently people were/are upset about). [2]

 

-At 93 minutes, it is the second shortest film to win the Best Picture Oscar. The shortest film to win the Best Picture Oscar is Marty at 91 minutes. [1]

 

- For the Best Director Oscar, Allen beat out his “Play It Again, Sam” director, Herbert Ross (in addition to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg). For Best Actor, though, he lost to Richard Dreyfuss for “The Goodbye Girl” which was, also, directed by Ross. [2]

 

-When Woody Allen won the Director's Guild Award, everyone wondered if the homegrown New Yorker would leave the Big Apple long enough to travel to Los Angeles to claim an Oscar®. Allen, who refused to allow his name to appear in United Artists' Oscar® advertisements for Annie Hall, said that he'd be at his usual place on Oscar night - playing clarinet with the New Orleans Marching and Funeral Band at Michael's Pub on Manhattan's East Side. "I couldn't let down the guys," Allen said. Indeed, Allen didn't let the guys down, and he concluded the evening by reading himself to sleep with the book Conversations with Carl Jung. Allen awoke the next morning to learn from the New York Times that Annie Hall won big at the Academy Award® ceremonies. Allen later said of his film's sweep, "I was very surprised. I felt good for Diane because she wanted to win. My friend Marshall and my producers Jack Rollins and Charles Joffe had a very nice time. But I'm anhedonic." [3]

 

. It was also the first comedy since “Tom Jones” (1963) to win the Best Picture Oscar, and still holds that honor. It is even rarer still that such a witty comedy could win top honors by ridiculing the Hollywood community, for Allen pulls no punches in skewering the West Coast mentality. [3]

 

-“The whole concept of the awards is silly,” Woody told the Los Angles Herald-Examiner. Holding up to ridicule Hollywood’s biggest night as a “popularity contest” he inveighed against the Academy for being a crass trade association and the Oscars as ego candy “bought and negotiated for.” [4]

 

-“…I’m not interested in an inanimate statuette of a little bald man. I like something with long, blond curls.” [4]

 

-When Charles Joffe asked Woody if he had, “No Joy? [about his film winning 4 Oscars], Woody muttered, “I have no time for that. [4]

 

- A year later, Woody had a bit more to say on the subject of the Academy Awards®. "I know it sounds horrible," he said, "but winning that Oscar® for “Annie Hall” didn't mean anything to me. I have no regard for that kind of ceremony. I just don't think they know what they're doing. When you see who wins those things - or doesn't win them - you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is." [3]

 

-Woody didn’t bother to pick up his Oscars. Several months later, he confessed to having “no idea” pf their whereabouts. [4]

[1] – imdb.com
[2] – Every Woody Allen Movie website
[3] – Turner Movie Classics
[4] - The Unruly Life of Woody Allen: A Biography by Marion Meade
[5] – Woody Allen on Woody Allen; A Conversation with Stig Bjorkman