AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Annie Hall
Director: Woody Allen (Dir)
Release Date:   Apr 1977
Duration (in mins):  93-94
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Cast: Woody Allen  (Alvy Singer)
  Diane Keaton  (Annie Hall)
  Tony Roberts  (Rob)
 

Summary: Alvy Singer grows up in Brooklyn, New York, and becomes a well-known comedian. Alvy and his girl friend, Annie Hall, are having relationship issues—she is withdrawing her affection, and saying that she is just going through a phase. Annie reminds him of how he used to be “hot” for Allison, but says that his ardor cooled off. At a 1956 benefit performance for Adlai Stevenson’s presidential campaign, Alvy meets Allison, who is coordinating the acts for the show. By 1964 as they start to make love, Alvy becomes obsessed with conflicting evidence related to the John F. Kennedy assassination, and Allison feels rejected as a result of Alvy’ obsession, and accuses him of using his fixation to avoid having sex with her. Alvy reflects that there is some truth in what Allison says—that, like the old Groucho Marx joke, he really doesn’t want to be a member of any club that would have him as a member. In a happier moment in their relationship, Alvy and Annie are vacationing at the seashore, and delight in each other’s company as they attempt to cook live lobsters for dinner. Alvy asks Annie if he is her first love? She say no, and reminisces about some of her old boyfriends. When Alvy suggests that Annie is lucky that he came along, she responds, “Well, la-dee-dah." Alvy is unimpressed with her choice of words, and Annie suggests that he prefers intellectual women and married two of them. But Alvy’s memories of his earlier marriages are not particularly happy, either. In 1975, on a tennis date with his friend, Rob, and Rob’s girlfriend, Janet, Alvy meets Annie Hall, a sometime actress from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. After their game, Annie offers Alvy a ride and invites him up to her apartment for a drink. Annie makes Alvy uncomfortable when she observes that he is what her Grammy Hall would call a “real Jew,” and goes on to mention that her grandmother hates Jews. As they have a rather pretentious conversation about Annie’s photography, their real thoughts are translated through subtitles as if they are in a foreign film. They try to arrange a date, but Alvy is busy on Friday night and Annie is busy on Saturday, auditioning at a local nightclub. Alvy tells Annie he’d love to hear her sing and she overcomes her shyness about singing in front of people she knows to allow him to attend. The audience is restless, and afterward Annie is embarrassed, believing that the people in the room hated her. Alvy assures her that she has a good voice and the audience loved her. He proposes that they kiss before going to dinner, to get over the awkwardness of a first kiss when they say good night. The cultural divide between them is revealed when having dinner at a delicatessen he orders corn beef on rye and she orders pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato. That night they make love, and afterward Annie smokes a joint. She asks Alvy if he wants a puff of the marijuana, but he declines. Soon they move in together at Alvy’s place, although he believes that she should maintain a separate apartment. Later, at the beach house Annie wants to smoke a joint before making love, and suggests that Alvy might not need to visit a psychiatrist if he resorted to weed. Upset that Annie seems to need to get high in order to make love with him, Alvy takes the joint away from her, but as he starts to kiss her, Annie’s bored spirit becomes separated from her body and asks Alvy if he knows where she put her sketch pad so she can draw while he and her dispirirted body make love. When she says she needs grass to feel comfortable, he again tells her that it upsets him and that as a comedian he is not interested in getting laughs from people who are high, because they are always laughing anyway. Early in his own career, Alvy was reluctant to perform and wrote material for other comics who could not create their own material. But now he has overcome his fears and is successful. He plays the University of Wisconsin and Annie is impressed with his reception by the students and tells him that she is beginning to understand some of the cultural references in his act. Alvy and Annie go to spend Easter in Chippewa Falls with Annie’s family. Grammy Hall has baked a traditional Easter ham, and in her mind’s eye comes to see Alvy as an ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jew—with spring curls, a beard and wearing a black suit and black Homberg hat. Alvy compares the “white bread” Hall family with his own raucous New York Jewish family. Later, Annie’s brother, Duane, invites Alvy into his room and confesses that when he is driving at night he sometimes has the urge to drive head-on into oncoming cars. When Annie and Alvy are set to return home, her parents have Duane drive them to the airport. Alvy is petrified with anxiety. Back in New York, Annie accuses Alvy of following her. He denies the charge and says that he was spying on her and saw her kissing David, her Russian Literature professor. Later, Annie enters into psychoanalysis, and notes that Alvy’s last name is “Singer” and that she wants to be a singer. She accuses Alvy of not wanting to be in a committed relationship because he does not think she is smart enough. He counters that wanting her to take adult education courses is a way to broaden her horizons. However, he also contradicts himself by saying that such classes are empty and shallow. After Alvy and Annie have broken up, he muses that he has always been attracted to the wrong kind of women, and his friend, Rob, introduces him to Pam, a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine. Although they have little in common, they end up going to bed together and Pam describes sex with Alvy as being a Kafkaesque experience (referring to existentialist writer Franz Kafka). As Pam and Alvy have a post-coital conversation, the phone rings. Annie is having a crisis, and Alvy tells her he will come right over. When he arrives at Annie’s apartment at 3:00 AM he discovers that the crisis is merely that there are two spiders in her bathroom. Although there is still contention between them, after Alvy kills the spiders, Annie tells Alvy she misses him and asks him to stay. She does ask if there was someone in his room when she called, but he tells her that he had the television on. Later, in bed, Annie suggests that she and Alvy never break up again. Annie proposes they go away together for the weekend, and Alvy suggests they go to Brooklyn with his friend, Rob, and revisit the haunts of his childhood. For Annie’s birthday, he gives her some sexy lingerie, but she feels the present is more for him than for her. For her “real” present, however, Alvy gives Annie a wristwatch she has wanted. After singing again at the nightclub, Annie is approached by Tony Lacey, who asks if she is recording, and who invites her and Alvy up to is room at the Hotel Pierre for some drinks. At Alvy’s insistence, Annie turns down the invitation, and asks Alvy what he wants to do. They watch the documentary, The Sorrow and the Pity about French anti-Semitism during World War II. Later, with their respective analysts Annie and Alvy have similar but different observations. She views their day in Brooklyn as the last time they really had fun together. He feels that they never have any laughs anymore. Asked how often they have sex, Alvy says, “Hardly ever—three times a week,” while Annie responds, “Constantly! Three times a week.” At a get-together with friends, Annie and Alvy are offered cocaine. Annie urges Alvy to try it, and mentions that she and Alvy will be going to California. Asking what the cocaine in a small container is worth, he is told $2 thousand. Alvy dips the tip of his finger in the white powder, puts it to his nose and sneezes into the container, sending the drug up in a puff around the room. In California to present an award, Alvy is offended that Rob is having an editor add fake laughs to the latest episode of his hit comedy series. Alvy is suddenly taken ill and is unable to appear on the awards show. Rob takes Alvy and Annie to Tony Lacey’s Christmas party, and Tony suggests to Annie that they could record a record album in about six weeks. Flying back to New York Annie realizes that she liked California, and Alvy that he enjoyed flirting with other women. Each fears breaking up for fear of hurting the other, but ultimately they decide to separate. Later, leaving a movie theater alone, Alvy mentions to himself that he misses Annie, and a passing couple stops to tell him that she is living in California with Tony Lacey. Another stranger asks why he doesn’t go out with other women? Attempting to prepare lobsters at the beach house with another woman, things are not the same as with Annie and the magic is gone. He calls Annie on the phone, saying that he wants her to come back, and that if she won’t come to New York, he will come to Los Angeles to get her. In Los Angeles, Alvy calls Annie from the airport, and they agree to meet at a Sunset Strip health food café. Alvy asks Annie to marry him and return to New York, but she refuses. Being a New Yorker, Alvy is unused to driving. Leaving the restaurant in his rented car, he manages to smash into several other cars and lands in jail. Rob puts up Alvy’s bail. Back in New York, Alvy watches a rehearsal of his new play. Two actors recite dialogue from his last meeting with Annie—but art does not imitate life. The girl in the play agrees to return to New York with the protagonist. In the rehearsal hall, Alvy turns to the audience and says he wanted to have his first play turn out perfect the way life seldom does. He mentions that he had run into Annie again, that she’d returned to New York and was living with another guy. He saw her coming out of a screening of The Sorrow and the Pityy and considered it a personal triumph. Sometime later they had lunch and talked about old times and then parted. He’s reminded of an old joke about a guy who goes to a psychiatrist complaining that his brother thinks he’s a chicken. The doctor asks, “Why don’t you turn him in?” and the man replies, “Because we need the eggs.” Alvy recognizes that relationships are difficult, but we keep putting ourselves into relationships “because we need the eggs.” 

Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.
Production Company: United Artists Corp.
Director: Woody Allen (Dir)
  Robert Greenhut (Prod mgr)
  Fred T. Gallo (1st asst dir)
  Fred Blankfein (2d asst dir)
  Ted Devlin (D.G.A. trainee)
Producer: Charles H. Joffe (Prod)
  Fred T. Gallo (Assoc prod)
  Robert Greenhut (Exec prod)
Writer: Woody Allen (Wrt)
  Marshall Brickman (Wrt)

Subject Major: Comedians
  Courtship
  Infatuation
  Love affairs
  Psychoanalysis
  New York City
  Los Angeles (CA)
 
Subject Minor: Antisemitism
  Beaches
  Cocaine
  Family relationships
  Flirtation
  Friendship
  Hotels
  Infidelity
  Jews
  Lobsters
  Marijuana
  Motion picture theaters
  Nightclubs
  Plays
  Political campaigns
  Record producers
  Reporters
  Rolling Stone (Magazine)
  Romance
  Singers
  Voyages and travel
  Wisconsin

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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