35 – Annie Hall (1977)

Alvy Singer: Oh my God, she’s right. Why did I turn off Allison Portchnik? She was beautiful, she was willing. She was real intelligent. Is it the old Groucho Marx joke that I’m – I just don’t want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member?
Seen before?

R: Two or three times.

F: Yes a couple of times.


R: It’s a shame there’s a massive stink around Woody Allen now, because I really like this movie. Does it make sense to like the art if you don’t like the artist? It feels kind of difficult for a story that’s semi-autobiographical like this.

F: It’s a tough one. We almost thought about boycotting this film from the list but that’s a dangerous road as there are other films we would then have to boycott for similar reasons. Have to say for me I felt uncomfortable watching Woody Allen on screen and that wasn’t because of anything to do with his character. I’m going to focus on other parts of the movie! Like Diane Keaton. She’s great in this isn’t she?

R: It’s the naturalism of her performance that I think is so impressive – particularly against the fourth wall breaking antics of Woody Allen. But I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be talk about this film without talking about the male lead, director or co-writer. It is a film very much in Allen’s image.

F: You’re right. Ok, as a film I do enjoy this. I like the breaking of the fourth wall (sometimes!) and the non-linear timeline. But only because there are very few films that have that style. It would get quite boring, quite quickly if too many films were like that.

R: Yeah, the talk-to-the-audience stuff is done really creatively, and it’s easy to see how it influenced films like Wayne’s World (1992) and on TV Family Guy (1999-). And the jumbled structure really fits with the conversational narrative, by reflecting the way that a friend telling a long story might not tell it chronologically from start to finish. But were there some scenes in this you weren’t totally impressed by?

F: The cartoony bit is a bit naff. (although I liked how Snow White is next on the list!) And the stuff in LA feels quite forced – the film feels much more at home in New York. Since this is a comedy, did you find it funny?

R: Definitely, there are some great jokes here. The famous scene where they’re in the queue for the cinema and there’s a guy behind them boring on is famous for a very good reason. But I also like some of the more straightforward comedy, like the scene with the lobsters, which there’s a really nice callback to later on in Annie’s apartment when the photos are up on the wall. I totally agree the film feels most at home in New York, but can we give a shout out to Paul Simon? He might basically be playing himself, but he does a lot better than many other musicians you see pop up in movies.

F: Yes a nice cameo, and not a terrible actor. Plus the Jeff Goldblum cameo! I think this film has aged well especially for a comedy. But this is the third or fourth time I’ve seen this and I didn’t find myself laughing that much. That’s always going to be an issue with comedies though I guess!

R: I think the very best comedies can get funnier with each viewing, but it’s true that most humour relies at least little bit on an element of surprise, and that can’t be sustained with repeat viewings. That also probably explains why there’s fewer comedies than serious dramas on this list.

F: Yes – I like seeing the comedies on this list though. A welcome break from all the seriousness!

Is it worthy of the top 100?

R: Maybe I’m wrong to ignore the sins of its creator, but yes I think it is.

F: Impossible for me to ignore the fact this is Woody Allen. A shame for everyone else involved in this but a no from me.

Up next:
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
36 – The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

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