The 1970s could be characterized as the decade of renaissance in American film history. While Hollywood was entering a period of change and self-scrutiny, the well-known stand-up comedian Woody Allen stood apart as a talent of amusement and has left a remarkable legacy of 7 features in a decennium. During this period of time, he produced his finest works like Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask), Love and Death, Interiors, Manhattan, Sleeper and Annie Hall. Released in 1977, it is argued that Annie Hall happens to be one of the most comical motion pictures produced in America since World War Two and has set the standard for modern romantic comedy as well as new grounds for Woody Allen himself.
It is no surprise that Woody Allen drew a lot from his own life into Annie Hall making it harder to distinguish facts and fiction. Born in a Jewish family in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City, he revealed his talent as a comedian relatively early by writing jokes and selling them to local newspaper columnists. Shortly, his distinctive style was recognized and Woody Allen would start growing his reputation as a “genius” after writing for many of television’s leading comedians and comedy shows, composer Mary Rodgers said. To augment his comedy writing, he entered a new era in his career as a stand-up comedian and developed an anxious, nervous and intellectual persona for his act that would later on become his trademark. He establishes a blurry line between both himself and his character Alvy Singer since the opening scene.
In his personal study film historian Peter Cowie explores the New York-centric theme in Annie Hall, claiming that Woody Allen was able to sculpture a persona by recapturing the mood of the 70s and embodying the conception of New York lived by sophisticated intellectuals. He placed a great deal of emphasis on geographical location as the bedrock for personal identity. Originally, Annie Hall had to become a three hour film including a mysterious murder and a man going through middle-age crisis reflecting on his life. It even had a working title Anhedonia, a term used to describe inability to feel pleasure. Primarily, the murder scene was foreseen to be shot in Boston until Allen persuaded screenwriter Marshall Brickman to shoot it in New York in a contemporary style. Such resolution brought more autobiographical value to the story. The adoration of a metropolitan city is what connects Alvy Singer to Woody Allen in the first place. The director always felt personally close to the lifestyle of New York he recreated in Annie Hall. The lining up in Third Avenue movie theatres, Madison Avenue boutiques, bookshops, myriad restaurants, clubbing and even conversations all work together creating an impression of a charming and sophisticated metropolis spirit – just like Allen experienced it. Therefore, feeling the need to establish so many locations, Woody Allen had to witness a tremendous increase in the budget of his film to move the entire production around the city. In the end, the cost of the film blew from estimated 3 million to 4 million US dollars. On the other hand, New York has never been portrayed in a similar way on screen before and remains an imperative part of Annie Hall and an intimate ambience for both Alvy Singer and Woody Allen himself.
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