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USA 1977
Directed by
Woody Allen
94 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Annie Hall

Annie Hall is probably Allen's best-known and best-loved movie, the one that marked his shift from a maker of absurdist comedies to a diffidently witty commentator on middle-class Manhattanite relationships.

As originally shot by Allen the film (to be titled Anhedonia) was intended as a kind of cinematic monologue by Allen's solipsistic alter ego, Alvy Singer, however according to editor Ralph Rosenblum Allen was persuaded to shift the balance towards Keaton with whom he was in a relationship and who, by all accounts, pretty much plays herself in the film (her birth name was Diane Hall).

Although the film has lost a good deal of its pizzazz, this is because it has been imitated and emulated countless times since including, of course, by Allen himself. In its day the irreverent, episodic approach which included Allen breaking the fourth wall, appropriating his own public identity, inviting meta-narrative comments from supposedly real passers-by (including, famously, introducing Marshall McLuhan at one point) all combine with Allen's trademark one-liners (for one scene he simply appropriates his stand-up act) in a free-ranging serio-comic piece of self-reflection that made for a refreshingly novel experience for film-goers and critics alike.

The film scooped the Oscars that year, taking out Best Picture and Best Director as well as Best Actress for Keaton and Best Original Screenplay for Allen and Marshall Brickman with whom Allen would also write Manhattan. So popular was the film that Keaton’s wardrobe style became the must-have look of the season.




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