Annie Hall

With Annie Hall, Woody Allen became shambling heir to the great interpreters of the Jewish experience in America, especially Isaac Bashevis Singer and Saul Bellow. Allen's Alvy Singer (the name can't be an accident) is a second-generation Jewish American whose universe is expanding. Right there in his beloved Manhattan he makes an extraordinary discovery: America, in the person of Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). An anomaly, a flower of sweet sanity grown from Midwest crazy-corn stock, she will all too soon heed California's siren call. Anathema! Allen's film was a modest comedy/romance that won an Oscar for Best Picture. Perhaps it was inevitable, situated as it was in 1977, when the excesses of the counterculture were ripe for a fond ribbing (in cameos by Marshall McLuhan and Jeff “I forgot my mantra” Goldblum, among others)-and who knew what was to take its place? Like the guy who believed his brother was a chicken, then, as now, we needed the eggs.

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