-Runtime: 89 minutes

-Released on December 17, 1973

-Production Company: Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions

-Distributor: United Artists

-Rated PG

-Budget: $2 million [1]

-Gross: $18.3 million [1]

-Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

 

- Sleeper (1973) was Woody Allen's fourth film and a major turning point for him. Unlike his earlier comedies which were loosely structured plots held together by a string of jokes, Sleeper was Allen's first attempt at a tightly scripted narrative with fully developed characters. [7]

 

-With Sleeper, Woody finally crossed over from stand-up to the screen. [2]

 

-The film was shot in and around Denver, Colorado, Monterey, California, the Mojave Desert. [7]

 

- Woody Allen had originally hoped to shoot much of the film in Brasilia, Brazil's futuristic capital city complex designed by urban planner Lucio Costa and architect Oscar Niemeyer. Budget limitations however restricted him to using locations within the continental USA. [3]

 

- Sleeper is also notable as the first collaboration between screenwriter Marshall Brickman (Annie Hall, 1977) and Allen. Costume designer Joel Schumacher is the same guy who directed Batman and Robin in 1997. [7]

 

- This is a rare example of a large-scale comedy under the hand of a single writer/director/actor who had earned a lot of trust and goodwill. Sleeper has elaborate sets, props and a large cast. True, it’s special effects don’t exactly dazzle, but it’s about as fancy as most 1970s pre-Star Wars sci-fi movies. [6]

 

- Woody Allen originally conceived the story (in which people in the future are forbidden to talk) as a plausible way of making a modern silent film. [3]

 

- The idea for a science-fiction comedy came to him while he was shooting the 'sperm' sequence for his parody of Dr. David Reuben's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (1972). [7]

 

- Woody Allen originally intended the film to be three hours long, and in two parts. The first part would have him in the present day, coping with life, until his illness. And the second half, would be the futuristic part. But, United Artists rejected this concept. [3]

 

-Sleeper is mainly a comedic tribute to the genius of two comedians whom Woody Allen deeply admires: Benny Hill (slapstick comedy, raucous music, sped-up motion scenes), and Bob Hope (one-liner comic delivery). [4]

"Sleeper " Screening Companion

The Changing Landscape

 

-With Husbands and Wives and Manhattan Murder Mystery both underperforming at the box office, Tri-Star quietly pulled out from their three-picture deal with Woody. Nobaody at TriStar seemed upset to bid Woody farewell, nor did they offer to distribute his future films.  [6]

 

-For the first time in twenty-five years, [Woody] was forced to address an unpleasant reality: Filmmaking is like any other business. [6]

 

-That summer, when nobody wanted to make movies with Woody anymore, Jean Dourmanian was continuing to brood about the media’s treatment of her friend.

 

-In 1991 she had started her own production company.  Sweetland Films bankrolled her productions, but Dourmanian wouldn’t publicly identify her backers. In turn, Sweetland Film would become Woody’s new source financing. Talk started that Sweetland Films principal investor was her wealthily boyfriend, Jaqu Safra. [6]

 

-On July 21, 1993, Woody announced he would be leaving TriStar because Sweetland had offered him a deal he couldn’t refuse: a 25 percent larger production budget, a generous director’s fee consisting of a cash fee in the low seven figures, and a cut of the profits after Sweetland recouped its investment. [6]

 

-“Nobody wants to be involved with him,” declared a senior studio executive. “If his deal is so wonderful, as another put it, “how come he doesn’t have distribution?” [6]

 

-Doumanian was in charge of shopping Woody’s films for distribution rights. Her first act was to concentrate on controlling costs. As it turned out, her idea of trimming the production budget was to decree sizable pay cuts of Woody’s loyal staff. [6]

 

-Over the next two years Sweetland would be responsible for the exodus of almost the entire production team Woody assembled since Annie Hall… [6]

 

-It was not as if Woody had run out of alternatives. He could have retained his staff, very likely at their usual salaries, by alternating personal films with the occasional commercial films…[6]

 

- Dourmanian received 4 bids to distribute Woody’s first film with Sweetland Films and settled on Mirimax Films. Still relatively new and based in New York instead of Hollywood, the Weinsteins instinctively gobbled up the film sight unseen. [6]

 

-Despite the wrenching events of the past two years, Woody had nonetheless managed to pull out of his hat a stylish film that found favor with mainstream audiences (making only $13.4 million, yet his most successful film since Crimes and Misdemeanors). It was a tribute to his toughness – and an answer to his enemies. [6]

Trivia

 

 Woody Allen confirmed the scientific feasibility of his screenplay ideas in a single lunchtime meeting with Isaac Asimov. Allen also consulted with leading science fiction writer Ben Bova to make sure that some of his futuristic predictions were feasible. [3]

 

- Miles is told that his world came to an end when a madman named Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear device. Albert Shanker was the president of the American Federation of Teachers. [3]

 

The Mile Hi Church of Religious Science in Lakewood, Colorado was turned into a futuristic McDonald's, featuring a sign counting the number sold: The digit 1 followed by more than twenty zeroes. [1]

 

- The film contains several plot points which parody or spoof several well-known works of science-fiction, most notably H. G. Wells's The Sleeper Awakes and George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Another direct homage/parody is the use of actor Douglas Rain (best known as the voice of the HAL-9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey) to voice the evil computer in Sleeper. [1]

 

- Woody Allen plays clarinet in the film's score.

 

- Diane Keaton's second appearance in a Woody Allen-directed film. Their personal relationship was over by the time she started appearing in his movies.

 

- Getting the elaborate sets and costumes right caused the film to run behind schedule and come in over budget, even though the final cost was still only $2 million. [3]

- There are two known cuts of Sleeper. The first, seemingly original cut, contains a dinner scene shortly after Miles and Luna return to the house where Miles was originally taken after revival. In the dialogue-less scene, Miles eats in time with a piano soundtrack while Luna watches him in amazement. In another cut distributed in the US, this scene is absent but another, in which Miles shaves using a high-tech mirror and accidentally tunes into the view from the mirror in another bathroom, is present in its place. The latter cut is on the MGM 2000 DVD, which has both a widescreen and full-screen version of the film, a trailer, Spanish dubbing, and French subtitles. The network television version cuts the scene in which Miles and Luna discover a 1990's newspaper with the headline "Pope's Wife Gives Birth to Twins". [1]

 

- The special effects required for the film would soon become the most difficult part of the production and create considerable tension on the set due to Allen's exacting standards. All the bubble-topped cars operated by levers, mechanized props, and stunt gags led Allen to comment at one point, "This is a movie about wires." Other technical challenges were faced in scenes involving the robot factory, the gadget-filled house of scientist Dr. Melik, and the future farm with its 12 foot-high vegetables. [7]

 

- The final edit, condensing 35 hours of film footage into a 90 minute movie, was completed two days before the film ope

According to editor Ralph Rosenblum, Woody Allen filmed and then deleted a fantasy sequence in which Miles plays a game of chess with life-sized chess pieces, and is then sentenced to death by the chess pieces after he loses the game. [3]

 

- After the movie was released in French-speaking Canadian regions as "Woody and the Robots", Woody Allen inserted a clause in all of his subsequent contracts that his movies' titles could not be changed by other parties. [3]

 

The Sleeper House

 

-The Sculptured House, designed by architect Charles Deaton, is a private home known locally as the "Sleeper House" or "Flying Saucer House" located on Genesee Mountain near Genesee Park, west of Denver. [1]

 

- The rebel hideout was filmed at "the Sculptured House", a residence designed and built by architect Charles Deaton in the mountains west of Denver. The home was constructed in 1963 but the interior was not yet complete at the time of filming.

 

-In 2004, the home was offered for sale for $10 million. [3]

 

- Denver entrepreneur Michael Dunahay purchased the house from fellow entrepreneur and former Denver economic-development chief John Huggins in 2006. Mr. Dunahay, who founded timeshare company Vacation Solutions, now is delinquent on the nearly $2.8 million outstanding balance of his $3.1 million mortgage on the house, county records show. [5]

 

- It is perched  atop a mountain overlooking Interstate 70, putting it in prime view of motorists traveling from Denver to Colorado’s biggest ski mountains. [5]

 

Critical Reception

 

- In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Sleeper the 30th greatest comedy film of all time.

 

- Also in 2000, the American Film Institute listed Sleeper 80th among its 100 Years… 100 Laughs.

 

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

 

-Sleeper has a 100% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 28 reviews.

 

- It’s his last movie, for at least a couple of decades, to have no other ambition than to be funny. From minute 1 to minute 87, Sleeper has no romance, no serious conversations and no melodrama... just jokes. Sometimes, this can be a dreary prospect, but when it’s funny, it’s refreshing and impossible to dislike. [6]

 

- When Sleeper opened commercially, it received the best reviews to date of any of Allen's films and firmly established Woody and Diane Keaton as a great comedic team. It is also one of the few films you'll see where Allen actually laughs on screen. In this case, it's the scene where Miles, as a robot servant, gets aroused by a metal ball known as "The Orb." [7]

1 – Wikipedia

2 – “The Unruly Life of Woody Allen” by Marion Meade

3 – imdb.com

4 – “Conversations with Woody Allen,” by Eric Lax

5 – WSJ

6 – “Every Woody Allen Movie” website

7 – Turner Movie Classics