Annie Hall released
An awkward guy, a kooky and unpredictable girl, and a structure that playfully jumps backward and forward in time — Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer scored recently with critics and audiences using this formula, but that film's template was drawn over 20 years ago in Woody Allen's classic romantic comedy Annie Hall. Opening in theaters on April 20, 1977, Annie Hall was the film that morphed Allen from an idiosyncratic maker of offbeat comedies like Take the Money and Run and Sleeper to a major cultural figure. The film, which won four Oscars (Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay), starred Allen as Alvy Singer, an angsty comedian, and Diane Keaton (the film's titular Annie Hall) as his charmingly scattershot girlfriend. And while the characters may have been New York intellectuals and the narrative nothing more than "boy gets girl and boy loses girl" (without the usual third part), the film managed to sum up for many the essence of relationships. Annie Hall is chock-full of great moments and images: Singer's family home under the Coney Island roller coaster; Christopher Walken as a death-obsessed driver scarily giving Singer a night-time lift; media theorist Marshall McLuhan suddenly appearing at Allen's behest to rebut an ill-informed pontificator in a movie theater line; Singer and Hall comically cooking lobster. It was Allen's first film with master d.p. Gordon Willis, and his first to employ the long takes that would characterize his work going forward, but the film is much more than the sum of its parts. Perhaps its almost cheerful and ultimately wise take on relationships is summed up best by these closing lines of Singer's about Hall; "I realized what a terrific person she was, and... and how much fun it was just knowing her; and I... I, I thought of that old joke, y'know, the, this... this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs."