It’s always interesting to rewatch an old film and get a sense of how it holds up. Can you enjoy it as much after all these years? Many classics hold up remarkably well, but that’s not always the case.
“Annie Hall,” directed by Woody Allen and released in 1977, is widely regarded as one of the most influential and important films of the 20th century. The film stars Woody Allen and Diane Keaton along with an excellent supporting cast. The film follows the story of Alvy Singer (Allen), a neurotic New York comedian, and his relationship with Annie Hall (Keaton), an aspiring singer. Many have claimed that the story is semi-autobiographical, though Allen has denied this while Keaton has acknowledged that some of the interactions between Alvy and Annie are similar to her brief, off-screen relationship with Allen.
Diane Keaton as Annie Hall
The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress for Diane Keaton’s portrayal of Annie Hall. Keaton’s Annie Hall is quirky, endearing, and struggling to find her place in the world. She delivers a brilliant performance worthy of her Oscar, and creates one of those iconic characters frozen it time that we can all fall for again and again. Her performance alone makes it easy to recommend this film to anyone who loves movies.
Classic Romantic Comedy
Some consider “Annie Hall” to be a defining film of the romantic comedy genre, even if the story doesn’t get wrapped in a nice, romantic bow at the end of the film. The story highlights the ups and downs of the relationship between Alvy and Annie. As the film progresses, the relationship between Alvy and Annie begins to deteriorate, with Alvy becoming increasingly neurotic and insecure, and Annie seeking personal fulfillment outside of the relationship. The film ends with Alvy reflecting on the lessons he has learned from his relationship with Annie, though viewers can question whether he learned anything at all.
Warner Archives’ long-awaited DVD of Robert Altman’s rarely seen 1971 follow-up to his “MASH” breakthrough is an example of some of the best, but a lot more of the worst, of the great director’s filmmaking approach. Bespectacled Bud Cort (“Harold and Maude”) stars in the title role as a geeky but confident youth building a human-powered flying machine in a fallout shelter at the then new Houston Astrodome, looked over by a mysterious goddess-like earth mother/protector (Sally Kellerman). Meanwhile, assorted right-wingers in Brewster’s sphere are dying under never fully described or explained circumstances, including witchy Margaret Hamilton (“The Wizard of Oz”), complete with ruby slippers, and unrecognizable Stacey Keach under an enormous amount of age make-up as a greed-obsessed millionaire. A tough, plays-by-his-own rules San Francisco cop named Frank Shaft (Altman favorite Michael Murphy) is working the case, but the only thing connecting the deaths is the presence of bird feces on the corpses — which is, I guess, supposed to be hilarious and also meaningful. Meanwhile, the seemingly sex-negative Brewster bumps into a girl with a talent for wacky black comedy car chases (Houston-bred Shelley Duvall in her first film role). Altman discarded the original screenplay by Doran William Cannon, who wrote the infamous “Skidoo,” and so the writer can’t be blamed for the narration featuring Rene Auberjonois as a possibly half-bird ornithologist. It’s not all torture. The final few minutes find their way to a bit of actual movie poetry beneath the skylight of the Astrodome, but this bird doesn’t stay airborne for long.
Here’s a cool “behind the scenes” video about Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” Kubrick allowed his then-17-year-old daughter, Vivian, to make a documentary about the production of the film. There’s some great footage of Jack Nicholson and the rest of the cast. In one scene Shelley Duvall discusses being a little jealous about the extra attention that Nicholson received due to his celebrity status.