AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Director: Woody Allen (Dir)
Release Date:   Dec 1973
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 23 Dec 1973
Production Date:   30 Apr 1973--17 Sep 1973
Duration (in mins):   87-88 or 90
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Cast:   Woody Allen (Miles Monroe)  
    Diane Keaton (Luna Schlosser)  
    John Beck (Emo Windt)  
    Mary Gregory (Dr. Melik)  
    Don Keefer (Dr. Tyron)  
    John McLiam (Dr. Agon)  
    Bartlett Robinson (Dr. Orva)  
    Chris Forbes (Rainer Krebs)  
    Marya Small (Dr. Nero)  
    Peter Hobbs (Dr. Dean)  
    Susan Miller (Ellen Pogrebin)  
    Lou Picetti (M.C.)  
    Jessica Rains (Woman in the mirror)  
    Brian Avery (Herald Cohen)  
    Spencer Milligan (Jeb Hrmthmg)  
    Stanley Ross (Sears Swiggles)  
    Whitney Rydbeck (Janus)  
    Jackie Mason (Robot tailor (voice))  
    Douglas Rain (Evil computer/Various robot butlers (voice))  

Summary: In the year 2173, doctors revive cryogenically frozen Miles Monroe, a Greenwich Village health food store owner and ragtime clarinet player, who entered a hospital in 1973 for a routine ulcer operation and never regained consciousness. When Miles's tinfoil protective covering is peeled off, he wakes up a fugitive in a totalitarian state called the American Federation. The doctors hide the illegally defrosted Miles at Dr. Melik’s house, marveling at his quaint requests for organic foods and his ignorance of the health benefits of steak, deep-fried foods and hot fudge. Soon, the doctors ask Miles to help them learn about the Aries Project, which they suspect is The Leader’s plot to destroy their revolutionary movement, adding that Miles’s brain will be reprogrammed if his identity is revealed. Just as Miles declines to participate, security police swarm, enabling him to escape as the doctors are captured. Hiding in a nearby van full of robots, Miles uses spare parts to disguise himself as one of them and is delivered to the home of poet Luna Schlosser, who is disappointed by her new servant’s facial features, but needs help for a party that evening. Instructed by Luna to prepare food for her guests, Miles spoons instant pudding powder into a bowl, immediately producing a viscous mass, which is enveloping the counter as the doorbell sounds. After accidentally incinerating the guests’ wraps, Miles struggles with the rampaging pudding in the kitchen, beating it into submission with a broom while Luna and her artist friends become intoxicated from passing around an orb. After the party, Luna and her painter friend Herald enter the orgasmatron, a device which simulates sex. After climaxing, they emerge chatting casually, after which Luna recites her new poem about a butterfly turning into a caterpillar and then has a tantrum when Herald points out the biological flaw of its premise. Luna is calmed when they turn to the telescreen, a huge television, and waves back to The Leader as he bids them goodnight. The next day, Luna takes her new robot to have his head replaced with a more attractive one, but before Miles is decapitated, he slips out to her car, explaining that he is a man from the past. When Luna responds to Miles’s request for help with screams, trying to expose him as an alien, Miles hijacks her car and drives to the woods, where he gags her. Miles offers Luna safety if she will help him reach the underground, and eventually, overtaken by hunger, Luna agrees to help Miles if he will feed her. Finding gigantic produce growing at a farm, Miles is peeling a canoe-sized banana when the farmer arrives and they both repeatedly slip on the peel. After stunning the farmer with a strawberry, Miles returns to the woods where he and Luna dine on an enormous celery stalk and huge slices of banana. When Miles forces Luna to accompany him to a house where he asks to borrow a car, Luna contacts the police, who instruct her to detain the alien. Borrowing their host’s inflatable hydrovac suit, Luna convinces Miles to wear it as a disguise, then drives to a deserted road near a river where she inflates the suit in order to disable Miles as the police approach. As Miles bounces away, the police seize Luna and, due to her exposure to the alien, and are about to kill her when Miles pounces from behind. Running to the river, Luna climbs onto the buoyant Miles, paddling until the police fire a shot into his suit, propelling them to the other side. There, Miles finds a twentieth century Volkswagon, which starts immediately. As they drive away, Luna asks what it is like to be dead for two hundred years, to which Miles replies it is like a weekend in Beverly Hills. Miles and Luna take refuge in Dr. Melik’s deserted house where Luna suggests they use the orgasmatron, but Miles tries to win her over to more primitive ways of making love. Interrupted by the police, Miles gives Luna Dr. Melik’s gun, telling her to hide until he can lead them to the western district where they will find out about the Aries Project. Miles is hiding in the orgasmatron when the police find him disheveled and grinning like a zombie. They lead him away, then later, he wakes up in a drawer and is informed that he will be initiated into a society that will completely take care of his needs and desires. After being reprogrammed, fitted with new clothes and moved into a new apartment, complete with a robot dog named Rags, Miles is soon working at a new job and dating a pretty co-worker. Now living alone in the woods, Luna is captured by handsome, blond Erno Windt , a leader with the underground, and becomes a revolutionary. After dinner at McDonalds one night, Miles is surprised at home by Luna, whom he does not remember and, horrified to learn that she is with the underground, he calls for Rags to attack as Erno jumps out of the orgasmatron. Captured and taken to the woods, Miles is reprogrammed again. After regaining his personality and memory, Miles is attracted to Luna, but sadly realizes she is involved with Erno. Agreeing to help with Erno’s plan for Aries Day, Miles and Luna infiltrate a medical facility disguised as doctors, and as Miles jealously bickers with Luna over her feelings for Erno, they are surprised by a team of physicians who mistake them for expected guests. Entering a top- secret meeting, they all learn that an assassin’s bomb has destroyed The Leader, except for his nose, which now must be cloned. Miles and Luna determine to create a diversion and steal the nose, but instead, find themselves in an operating theater with the doctors ready to observe them performing the procedure. After stalling as long as they can, Miles hides the nose under his surgical mask, but it is quickly discovered. Miles holds the nose hostage with Dr. Melik’s gun while he and Luna run off, then ultimately throws it under a steamroller where it is flattened, to the horror of the doctors and police. Having successfully escaped, Luna ecstatically proclaims that Erno’s revolution will soon triumph, but Miles retorts that political solutions never work, adding that in six months, someone will be stealing Erno’s nose. Agreeing that they love each other, Luna ruefully informs Miles that science has proven meaningful relationships cannot last. When Miles refutes the theory, she observes that he does not believe in science, political systems or God and asks what he does believe in. Miles answers that he believes in sex and death, two things that come once in a lifetime, but after death one is not nauseous. Finally, Miles and Luna kiss.  

Production Company: Jack Rollins--Charles H. Joffe Productions  
Production Text: A Jack Rollins-Charles H. Joffe Production
A Jack Rollins-Cjharles H. Joffe Production
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp. (Transamerica Corp.)
Director: Woody Allen (Dir)
  Fred T. Gallo (1st asst dir)
  Henry J. Lange Jr. (2d asst dir)
Producer: Jack Grossberg (Prod)
  Marshall Brickman (Assoc prod)
  Ralph Rosenblum (Assoc prod)
Writer: Woody Allen (Wrt)
  Marshall Brickman (Wrt)
Photography: David M. Walsh (Dir of photog)
  Roger Shearman (Cam op)
  Richard Hannah (Cam tech)
  Victor King (2d asst cam)
  Joseph Edesa (Gaffer)
  Norman L. Harris (Best boy)
  Clyde W. Hart (Key grip)
  Don Whipple (Dolly grip)
  Bill Hansard (Background projection)
  William Avery (Stills)
Art Direction: Dale Hennesy (Prod des)
Film Editor: Ralph Rosenblum (Ed)
  Ron Kalish (Film ed)
  O. Nicholas Brown (Film ed)
  Trudy Ship (Asst ed)
Set Decoration: Dianne Wager (Set des)
  Gary O. Martin (Set coord)
  Gary Moreno (Set dec)
  Robert DeVestel (Set dec)
  Barry Bedig (Prop master)
  Jack M. Marino (Asst prop master)
  Robert Zilliox (Lead man)
  Gary Martin (Const)
  James Woods (Set painter)
Costumes: Joel Schumacher (Cost des)
  Arnold M. Lipin (Ward supv)
  G. Fern Weber (Ward supv)
Music: Woody Allen (Mus)
  with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band (Mus)
  and The New Orleans Funeral Ragtime Orchestra (Mus)
  Phil Ramone (Mus rec)
  Felix Giglio (Mus supv)
Sound: Jack Solomon (Sd mixer)
  Joseph Kenworthy (Swing man)
  Filmsounds, Inc. (Sd eff ed)
  Jess Soraci (Sd eff ed)
  Norman Kasow (Sd eff ed)
  Al Gramaglia (Re-rec)
  Magno Sound Recording, Inc. (Re-rec)
  Albera Yaylian (Boom op)
Special Effects: A. D. Flowers (Spec eff)
  Gerald Endler (Spec eff--loc)
  Neiman-Tiller Associates (Editorial)
  Norman Gorbaty (Title des)
  Harvey Plastrik (Opticals)
Make Up: Del Acevedo (Makeup)
  Janice Brunson (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Lynn Stalmaster (Casting)
  Doris Grau (Scr supv)
  Lori Imbler (Prod secy)
  Teresa Stokovic (Prod secy)
  Elizabeth Claman (Dir secy)
  Peter J. Silbermann (Unit pub)
  R. J. Louis (Loc coord)
  Jean Gingerich (Prod accountant)
  Joe R. Sawyers (Transportation capt)
  Joel Marrow (Asst to the prod)
  Tony Encarnacion (Asst to the prod)
  Cinemobile Systems (Locs)
  Peter Herald (United Artists rep)
  Johnny Jensen (Cinemobile tech)
  Russell McEntire (Driver)
  Donald Lewis (Driver)
  Richard Enoch (Driver)
  William Von Hoek (Driver--Cine II)
Stand In: M. James Arnett (Stunt coord)
  James M. Halty (Stunts)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Jack Rollins and Charles H. Joffe Productions 11/12/1973 dd/mm/yyyy LP43135

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: Deluxe
  Lenses/Prints: Prints by DeLuxe General; camera & lenses by Panavision

Genre: Comedy
Subjects (Major): Conformity
  The Future
Subjects (Minor): Artists
  Health food industry
  Jazz music
  New York City--Greenwich Village
  Volkswagen automobiles

Note: Sleeper opens with director Woody Allen’s trademark credits, white lettering on a black background, accompanied by jazz music on the soundtrack. Allen played clarinet with The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and The New Orleans Funeral and Ragtime Orchestra during the opening credits and throughout the film. The end credits state: “Dr. Melik’s house was designed by Charles Deaton, architect” and “Music Recorded Live at Preservation Hall, New Orleans; Michael’s Pub, New York City.” Then president Richard Nixon and well-known television sports announcer Howard Cosell appeared in the film in archival footage.
       Sleeper marked the second appearance of Diane Keaton and Allen, who, at the time, were in a romantic relationship. Allen paid homage to classic comedy throughout the film. The Times (London) review noted the similarity between "Miles Monroe" sailing across the lake in an inflated suit to a joke in Buster Keaton’s 1924 film, The Navigator (see above) and Miles hanging out a window while tangled in computer tape to the physical comedy of Harold Lloyd. The computer sequence is reminiscent of the famous scene in Lloyd’s 1923 film, Safety Last , in which he hangs from the side of a tall building ,and also recalls the celebrated scene in Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film, Modern Times (see above) in which Chaplin’s character is fed through the cogs of a huge machine. The frequent chase sequences accompanied by ragtime music evoke comedies from the silent era, the joke of slipping on a banana peel is taken to new heights and the sequence with the Gyro Mirror is reminiscent of the famous mirror scene from the 1933 Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup (see above).
       Contemporary politics and pop culture were satirized throughout the film. Miles is told that the old world was destroyed with a nuclear device detonated by a man named Albert Shanker. In 1973, Shanker was President of the American Federation of Teachers. When Miles is asked to explain photographs from the past, he tells the researchers that French president Charles de Gaulle was a famous chef, Reverend Billy Graham double dated with God and that author Norman Mailer donated his ego to the Harvard Medical School. The cloning scene contains a reference to the film 2001: A Space Odyssey (see below) when the familiar voice of actor Douglas Rain, who also provided the voice of the computer Hal 9000, is heard. Modern sources include Regis Cordic, George Furth, Laurence Kirchman, Albert Popwell and John Cannon in the cast.
       WSJ reported on 7 Jul 2006 that ”Dr. Melik’s” futuristic house is located twenty-five miles west of Denver. Other scenes were filmed in Los Angeles, Monterey and at the Culver City Studios. Allen and co-writer Marshall Brickman were nominated for a WGA Award for Best Comedy Written Directly for the Screen, and Allen won an award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America for Sleeper.  

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   24 Dec 1973   p. 4651.
Daily Variety   25 Apr 1973.   
Daily Variety   17 Dec 1973.   
Hollywood Reporter   27 Apr 1973.   
Hollywood Reporter   4 May 1973.   
Hollywood Reporter   14 Sep 1973   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Dec 1973.   
Hollywood Reporter   4 Feb 1974.   
Los Angeles Times   23 Dec 1973.   
New York Times   18 Dec 1973   p. 52.
New York Times   23 Dec 1973   Section II, p. 3.
New York Times   6 Jan 1974   Section II, p. 1.
New York Times   27 Apr 1974   p. 9.
Newsweek   31 Dec 1973.   
Time   7 Jan 1974.   
The Times (London)   3 May 1974.   
The Times (London)   5 May 1974.   
Variety   19 Dec 1973   p. 12.
WSJ   11 Jan 1974.   

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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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