Project Valentine, Day 8: Annie Hall


Quoth The Onion:  "The grand champion of the MPDG fighting league, '70s division, just might be Diane Keaton as the title character in Woody Allen's most good-natured film. The fact that she pulled this off in a world that let Goldie Hawn run around loose is just a further testament to how completely Keaton filled out the role of what otherwise could have been a shallow wish-fulfillment fantasy."

Like Harold and Maude, the AFI keeps coming up with new lists to put Annie Hall on.  I won't list all of them this time, though, because there's just one that I want to focus on.  Annie Hall is number 55 on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes list.  The quote?  "La-dee-da, la-dee-da."  Really, AFI?  That's the 55th best movie quote of all time?  Think of movies you quote with your friends.  You don't have to explain your reference when you let loose with a "Yippie ki-yay, motherfucker."  Most nerds (and even non-nerds) will know where you're coming from if you say "No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try."  Isn't the hallmark of a really great line that you can't hear it without thinking of the movie it came from?  Do you really think that when people hear the words "La-dee-da" they think of Annie Hall?  I mean, it's not even that pivotal of a line in the movie.

But that isn't the movie's fault, I suppose, and I actually enjoyed it quite a bit.  Woody Allen plays Alvy Singer, a successful, but neurotic, comedian.  Diane Keaton is Annie Hall, an aspiring singer who Alvy meets through a mutual friend.  The rest of the movie follows the course of their relationship, as they grow closer, discover each others interests and quirks, and ultimately part ways.  In the story sense, it's not especially original, right?  That's the same basic plot of a couple of other movies I've watched so far.  What makes this movie a success is in the way it breaks conventions.  In an animated sequence, Alvy imagines himself and Annie as characters in Snow White, with her as the evil queen.  In a scene where Annie is acting detached in bed, her mind gets up and walks across the room while her body remains in bed with Alvy.  And in perhaps the most famous scene of the movie, Alvy directly addresses the audience to complain about an obnoxious man in line behind him.

In an interesting reversal of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl paradigm, it's actually Alvy who gives Annie increased confidence and the ability to pursue her dreams.  In a complete confirmation of the MPDG paradigm, she breezes into his life, stirs things up, and then leaves again.

The other thing this movie is famous for is the influence that Annie's outfits had on women's fashions in the late '70s.  This made me wonder - just how cute would Ava look in a little vest and tie?  Until I can assemble that wardrobe for her, let this picture be your answer to that question.

 RATING - This one gets four Keaton/Allen caricatures out of five.  I'd give it five out of five, but I'm deducting a point because it beat Star Wars for Best Picture at the 1977 Academy Awards.

LESSON - I actually thought of a really good one, and then Blogger ate my entry, and I had to retype it and forgot what the lesson was.  So the lesson is this - look at the picture above.  My daughter is cute as hell.  Learn that lesson, people.


Anonymous said...

Lesson learned. Also, my favorite Woody Allen film remains Manhattan. It's better than Annie Hall.

Finally, when I saw this film I had actually recently seen the The Sorrow and The Pity, the documentary Alvy keeps taking his dates to, which is a four hour film about Nazi occupation of France. It's a great movie but boy is it LONG. But worth it to be "in" on the joke. I could actually imagine how bad a date that would be.

Danny said...

I remember an episode of Seinfeld revolving around Elaine renting that movie, but the name of it seemed so unlikely that I thought they made it up for the show. Imagine my surprise to find out that it's a real movie! They have it available for streaming on Netflix, but it's only two hours long - I wonder if it's an edited version...

Will Meekin said...

This Allen offering is notable for its formal innovations, but Kyle's on the button: "Manhattan" crushes.

To your "La dee da" point, while it might not be #55, I think it's in there. I've used it in conversation to describe a girlfriend who was hard to pin down and careless with my, yes, heart. A sentiment I think John Patrick Shanley was after in "Joe vs. The Volcano", though a bit more on the nose, with the line: "I am completely untrustworthy... I'm a flibbertigibbet."


Danny said...

I'm not saying it's not a widely used phrase, and in exactly that context. I mean, I've used it before, too. But when you used it, were you consciously referencing Annie Hall? Did you use it just because it's in this movie? I've never seen this movie before last week, and had no idea it was in there. It's a useable line, but not really the 55th most memorable line of all time.

Will Meekin said...

Yeah, it was a conscious reference to "Annie Hall," but maybe the person I was speaking to didn't get it (as most of my jokes-for-me go anyway). And I guess it's worth noting I'm old enough to have seen this in the theater, though not on its' first run, but in a revival run in college.

But perhaps the lesson this week, second of course to Ava looking super-cute in vest and tie, is that top 100 lists are 20 times more subjective than top 5 lists. And those are pretty personal:

Will's Top 5 Movies (2/16/11)
1. High Fidelity
2. Uncle Buck
3. Aliens
4. You Can Count on Me
5. Shaun of the Dead


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