Woody Allen denies that his film Annie Hall is autobiographical, but those who knew Woody back then claim that the story coincides very closely with episodes in Allen’s early life. In fact, Diane Keaton in her published memoir entitled Then Again (2011) recalls their five-year romantic involvement back then. She admits: I did want to be a singer. I was insecure, and I did grope for words. These are all attributes of the character Annie Hall which Diane Keaton played so magnificently. She also admits to a deep love for Woody, even to this day.
The film has been lauded as one of the top comedy films ever produced. It is surely the best of the body of work created by Woody Allen. Having said that, I find it difficult to like Woody Allen and his bumbling characters which are always the same in every movie in which he plays. He comes across to me as a pseudo-intellectual trying to convince his audience that he is brilliant – hence the bumbling.
Oh yes, the film. Annie Hall is the story of a couple who fall in love despite their noticeable differences. Alvy Singer, a successful Jewish comedian meets and courts an aspiring singer, Annie Hall, although Alvy has already had two failed marriages to his credit. Diane Keaton displays a beautiful singing voice in the film with her renditions of It Had to Be You and Seems Like Old Times. She would surely have been a success if she had followed her early desire to become a singer. It appeared to this reviewer that Diane Keaton was merely playing herself and did it successfully. Woody, of course, always plays himself.
It is always fun to watch a film that has been shot in New York City. You can almost smell the city as Alvy and Annie traipse through town. What a surprise it was to see Paul Simon in a significant role as Tony Lacey, Annie Hall’s promoter, when she decides to follow him to California to make an album. Another surprising cameo role was given to Marshall McLuhan, whose work was being discussed by a patron behind our main characters waiting in a theatre line. McLuhan happened to be standing close by and Alvy brought him into the discussion. Woody Allen may be the only celebrity who could have convinced Marshall McLuhan to appear as himself in a film. Also, Christopher Walken had a very small role as Annie’s brother, possibly before any movie fan even knew who Christopher Walken was.
The film Annie Hall won four Academy Awards in 1977 – for Best Picture, for Best Actress (Diane Keaton), for Best Director (Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman) and Best Original Screenplay. Woody Allen was nominated for Best Actor but did not win.
Annie Hall is a fun movie to watch, even a second or third time. It deserves all the commendation it has received over the years.
Annie Hall (1977)