-Released in United States September 26, 1980

-Runtime: 89 mins

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

-Distributor: United Artists

-Rated PG

- Budget: $10 million [1]

-Gross: $10.3 million [1]

- Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

"Stardust Memories"  Screening Companion

Sandy: I don’t want to make funny movies anymore. They can’t force me to. I…you know, I don’t feel funny. I look around the world and all I see is human suffering.

Manager: Human suffering doesn’t sell tickets in Kansas City.

Sandy: Oh!

Manager: They want to laugh in Kansas City. They’re been working in the wheat fields all day.

(In reference to the above quote: “…That was important for the character in the movie. But that was not me. I didn’t feel that way personally. I felt that I wanted to make comedies, but occasionally I wanted to make more serious films. But the audience thought, he doesn’t want to make any more comedies. You know, they took everything literally in the film.” –Woody Allen [7])

 

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-“Stardust Memories” [is] about an artist on the verge of a mental breakdown who viewed the world through a distorted state of mind. [3]

 

-The movie is based on weekend film festivals that were hosted by movie critic Judith Crist, who can be seen in a cameo in Sandy Bates' magician fantasy. [1]

 

-Woody Allen has said many times that, along with “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” this is his favorite of the movies he's made. [1]

 

-This film largely stemmed from a riposte by Woody Allen to a hostile article written about him by novelist Joan Didion, and to the Academy's seeming indifference to his "serious" film “Interiors.” This explains the film's relatively sour mood towards the critical community and indeed the movie-going public. [1]

 

An homage to Federico Fellini's film “8 ½” (1963). Aspects of the homage are the black and white cinematography, the opening scene of Woody on a train, the seaside locations, the emphasis on a director hounded by critics and fans, and relationships with multiple women. Also, although in quite a different context, a spaceship features in both films. [1]

 

-Working title for this film was "Woody Allen No. 4". Allen told an interviewer that "I am not even half of the Fellini of 8 1/2". [1]

 

-Woody Allen has always strenuously denied that the film is autobiographical. [1]

 

-Woody Allen's final film for United Artists. The UA executives who had worked with Allen for a decade quit UA to form Orion Pictures, where Allen joined them for another decade. [1]

 

Separating Life from Art

 

-“[Audiences] thought that the lead character was me! Not a fictional character but me, and that I was expressing hostility towards my audience. And, of course, that was in no way the point of the film. It was about a character who is obviously having a sort of mental breakdown…I guess if I’d let Dustin Hoffman or some other actor play the lead, then it would have been much less criticized.” –Woody Allen. [7]

 

-In a movie in which he plays a comedian-turned-serious-film-director, the conversation is inevitable. In no film in Allen’s career would the divide be more ambiguous or more important than it is here. [2]

 

-Allen’s long-time producers Charles H. Joffe and Jack Rollins play movie producers, and Allen regular Tony Roberts plays an actor named Tony who appears in many of Sandy’s films. Like Allen, Sandy has had an arduous history of studios interfering artistically in his films, and now guards over the final cut militantly. Bearing these similarities in mind, consider, also, the following: Sandy is a pretentious, self-serious, boorish, egotistical, self-centered tool. Worst of all: Sandy has a searing contempt for his fans and critics alike. [2]

 

-Given the parallels Allen draws between himself and Sandy, combined with the lukewarm reception of his first serious venture (Interiors), and the over-the-top venom with which he portrays Sandy’s “fans,” it’s pretty easy to understand why people felt they were being personally insulted. [2]

 

-Woody Allen insists that, apart from a few details, Sandy is not actually that much like him. The more you learn about Woody Allen, the easier it is to believe this. For one thing, Sandy wants to stop directing “funny” movies because he is no longer able, in good conscience, make them with so much sadness in the world, whereas Woody Allen’s dramatic endeavors are the result of personal interest and artistic ambition. Furthermore, unlike Sandy, Allen takes neither himself nor his movies seriously at all. And, most importantly, Allen has no contempt for his fans — he always writes movies under the assumption that the people watching are at least as smart as him (his movies have been accused of many things, but never of being deliberately dumbed-down). [2]

 

-Regardless, critics and audiences took the film to be the cinematic equivalent of Woody Allen waving a middle finger in their face. All of Sandy’s fans are portrayed as pathetic, sycophantic simpletons incapable of absorbing true art, or they’re just leeches, latching onto him because he just happens to be famous. Most insultingly, the fans are largely portrayed as physically hideous. [2]

 

-Woody  said at the time, “So many people were outraged that I dare to suggest an ambivalent love/hate relationship between audience and a celebrity. This what happens with celebrities. One day people love you, the next day they want to kill you.” [6]

 

-Ten weeks after Stardust Memories opened, about a half mile from Woody’s house, John Lennon was shot and killed by a fan who had asked for his autograph earlier in the day.” [6]

 

-“I can understand that certain segments of the population would do that [confuse Woody with his film persona]. But I would think differently of the more educated critics and the more sophisticated audience. But people use to go up to Clark Gable and pick fights with him and say, ‘Listen, you think you’re so tough…’ They confuse the character you play with who you are.” –Woody Allen [7]

Trivia

 

-The character of Dorrie was modeled on Allen's own ex-wife Louise Lasser, who took an uncredited cameo in the film.

 

-Feature film debut of Brent Spiner. [1]

 

-Feature film debut of Sharon Stone. [1]

 

-Woody Allen’s mother is portrayed by the same actress as in “Annie Hall.” [2]

 

-In the scene where the movie execs criticize Sandy's film, two of the execs are Andy Albeck (a real-life executive who worked with Woody Allen at United Artists) and Jack Rollins (one of Allen's long-time managers). [1]

 

-The title is a reference to the Stardust hotel, where part of the film takes place, but also to the song “Stardust Memories” by Louie Armstrong, which is played a couple of times in the film. [2]

 

-When Woody Allen edited his films, he would play old music records in the cutting room to help him establish the rhythm of a scene being edited. This was the first movie in which Allen used the old music on his movie's soundtrack. [1]

 

-The paperback Sandy Bates (Woody Allen) autographs for the boy while having lunch with the new studio heads is the Monarch Notes version of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer". [1]

- When Olive and Cheech arrive (late) for the first day of rehearsals, Olive says “I told you it wasn’t the Morosco!” The Morosco Theatre is where Don’t Drink the Water played. [2]

 

-Woody Allen chose Chazz Palminteri after casting director Juliet Taylor showed him A Bronx Tale, Palminteri’s collaboration with Robert De Niro. [2]

 

-Fans of television: Weeds star Mary-Louise Parker and Sopranos stars Edie Falco and Tony “Paulie Walnuts” Sirico all have small parts.[2]

 

-Joe Viteralli and Chazz Palminteri re-teamed in the similarly mobster-themed comedy, Analyze This. [2]

 

-Chazz Palminteri and Jennifer Tilly have recently been playing a married couple on the popular sitcom Modern Family. [2]

 

-In February 2012 it was announced that Woody Allen was taking Bullets Over Broadway to Broadway as a musical. Allen, who co-wrote the film with Douglas McGrath, will pen the book himself. The score will feature existing period music. [4]

 

Allen is adapting the film as a stage musical to be directed by Susan Stroman, produced by Julian Schlossberg and Letty Aronson, with a score from the American songbook. [4]

 

-Gordon Willis was once again the cinematographer.

Critical Reception

 

- Stardust Memories opened in North America on September 26, 1980 to an onslaught of bad reviews. At 29 theatres, it grossed $326,779 ($11,268 per screen) in its opening weekend. The film failed to attract more than Allen's loyal fanbase in the long run, and it grossed a modest $10,389,003 by the end of its run. The film's budget was $10 million, so it likely made a profit after foreign revenue was taken into account. [4]

 

-1980’s audiences and critics didn’t have that luxury, however, and Stardust Memories was a box-office bomb and the target of not just negative, but scathing reviews. [2]

 

-Allen has said that, artistically, the film turned out fairly well, but he deeply regretted making it after he saw (after somehow failing to have seen before) how easily it could be interpreted as an unpleasant affront to the audience. [2]

 

-The New Yorker's Pauline Kael called the film "a horrible betrayal...a whiff of nostalgia gone bad.” [3]

 

-Andrew Sarris of The Village Voice thought the film seemed "to have been shaped by a masochistic desire to alienate Allen's admirers once and for all." [3]

 

- Janet Maslin for the NYT wrote in her 1980 review, ''Stardust Memories'' is his most provocative film thus far and perhaps his most revealing. Certainly it is the one that will inspire the most heated debate, though the film makes fun of those who take these things too seriously.” [5]

 

-Even Charles Joffe, Allen's steadfast executive producer on most of his films, had his doubts. In an interview in The New York Times, Joffe said, "When I walked out of the first screening, I found myself questioning everything. I wondered if I had contributed over the past twenty years to this man's unhappiness." [3]

 

-“Pauline Kael thought “Stardust Memories” was an ugly work that degraded the people who liked Woody’s pictures, then turned around and presented its creator as their victim. She decided he must be ‘crazy,” The hostility of a stand-up comic toward his audience was remotely understandable, but  the contempt of a filmmaker for fans who revered him, whom he bloodied as big-nosed, fat-lipped grotesques, was simply incomprehensible… “If Woody found success so painful, “Stardust Memories” should help him stop worrying” because he had just pulled the plug on himself.” [6]

 

-Vincent Canby [on the other hand] championed “Stardust Memories” as “marvelous” and “breathtaking.” [5]

 

-“Stardust Memories” was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for Best Comedy written directly for screen. [4]

 

-“Stardust Memories” is now considered an acid-test for Woody diehards. It’s cool to like “Stardust Memories.”

 

-71% Rotten Tomatoes rating

[1] – imdb.com

[2] – "Every Woody Allen Movie" web site

[3] – Turner Movie Classics

[4] – Wikipedia

[5] – The New York Times

[6] – "The Unruly Life of Woody Allen" by Marion Meade

[7] – "Woody on Woody" In Conversation with Stig Bjorkman