Archive for September 19th, 2014

12. Annie Hall (1977)


By Dean Treadway 

Even after watching it literally a hundred times, I still feel a sense of surprise when Annie Hall begins. It happens almost immediately, despite those regal white-on-black credits that’ve appeared in the same font (Windsor) before every Woody Allen film since. It’s the silence, actually, that messes me up. There’s no wild or even silky jazz accompaniment. The brilliant cast isn’t paraded before us. Woody Allen’s name isn’t mentioned until the final cards; instead, after the title and the producers (Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe), the editor Ralph Rosenblum gets the first credit (and rightfully so, as would later be revealed; without Rosenblum, Annie Hall would definitely not be the movie it is). And then there that is that first visage of Woody, standing alone against a reddish-brown background I always misremember as being grey. I also, over and over again, am shocked by how in-your-face his confessional here is. He appears absurdly close to us in his tweed jacket over a red flannel shirt, with those black glasses framing totally confident yet self-effacing eyes He’s completely himself, or at least completely the smart and not showy fellow he wants us to think he is. His opening monologue feels absolutely off the cuff, and in 1977, it took us all aback, even though nearly no single celebrity had spent so much time in front of audiences confessing his shortest of shortcomings as Allen had. I think it’s this: No audience is ever prepared to see another Charlie Chaplin or Orson Welles, especially one in such a nebbishy package. This was something wholly stunning: (more…)

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