The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro. He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man.
Woody Allen’s 1977 Annie Hall took the Academy Award for Best Picture. Throughout Oscar history, it’s been practically unheard of for a “mere” comedy to take the award over more “important” pictures (such as that year’s box office champ Star Wars). However, looking at it now, I’m amazed at how influential this relatively intimate movie has been on the modern romantic comedy as we know it. It’s practically a blueprint for the more commercial 1989 When Harry Met Sally. There are the awkward first encounters. There are the scenes of the lovers strolling down a New York City street (usually done in a long take). One or both of them confiding in best friends. The trendy pastimes (tennis for the 70s, aerobics for the 80s), the gorgeous cinematography that makes the city shine (the great Gordon Willis doing the honors for AH, future director Barry Sonnenfeld handling it on WHMS), the one-liners, the characters opening up and expressing how they feel, and of course, the soundtracks laden with old-time standards. Woody’s take on the romantic comedy tends to be more angst-ridden than WHMS. This is, of course, one of his specialties (somewhat off-putting to non-Woody fans). WHMS would come along and vacuum up some of the angst and replace it with a sitcomish smoothness, sending people home with a happy glow (the ending of AH is a bit more…reflective). But there is still much to recommend for Annie Hall. So many funny scenes, so many great lines. See it if you haven’t already, or see it again if you haven’t seen it it in awhile. And watch for the bit parts of future stars Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken, Charlie’s Angel Shelley Hack and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her long shot of Sigourney Weaver in her first movie. And, most importantly, try and watch it with that Special Someone!