Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall
Won for Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actress-Diane Keaton; Best Screenplay.
Nominated for Best Actor-Woody Allen.
English Digital Mono
French Digital Mono
English, French, Spanish
Runtime: 94 min.
Release Date: 4/28/1998
• Production Notes
• Theatrical Trailer
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Annie Hall (1977)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson
When I was ten, my parents took my along to see Annie Hall. Note that I
didn't say "dragged me along," which is the attitude one might expect from a
youngster. No, I was into media that seemed a bit beyond my age, and while
I'd change my mind about him later, I actually liked Woody Allen at that
More than 20 years later, I've watched Annie Hall again, and while I liked
it, I have no idea what my ten-year-old self saw in the film. Did I get any
of the jokes? I'm not sure how. I mean, I knew a fair amount at that age,
but I know that I lacked the sophistication to understand much of what was
Not to mention that I also did not yet have the "life experience" to take to
heart the romantic aspect of the story. Hey, I didn't even like girls yet
at that age (though I was getting there). AH is definitely a relationship
film, so it works much better for one who has loved, especially if one has
That would be me, so I connected surprisingly well to AH. As I alluded,
I've greatly soured on Woody Allen over the last two decades and generally
just find his persona to be irritating and largely unfunny. Actually, it's
not so much that he doesn't produce good humor; it's just that something
about Allen himself seems to rub me the wrong way. Tellingly, the two Allen
films I've most enjoyed are Radio Days and Purple Rose of Cairo, both of
which do not present Woody in a performing capacity.
So when I borrowed the AH DVD from my father, I expected not to like it.
However, I found it to be surprisingly effective and well done. It's a very
touching, sweet and funny exploration of male/female relationships, and also
one that rings true.
I was also surprised at the quality of the acting. Allen essentially plays
himself - as usual - so there's only so much he could do to muck it up; he
doesn't and is perfectly acceptable (and maybe a little less annoying than
usual). The big surprise was Diane Keaton. I usually can't stand her; from
other appearances, I've seen her to be one of the stiffest and least
convincing successful actresses in the business.
That wasn't the case with her work in AH. Keaton managed to portray Annie
as a real person, no mean feat in what was a demanding role; she had to show
her character in a wide variety of time periods and situations and she
pulled it off admirably and convincingly. She won an Oscar for her work
here, and she deserved it.
As good as Keaton was, my favorite performance in AH came from Jonathan
Munk, who played a nine-year-old version of Alvy Singer, Allen's character.
The kid's absolutely hilarious and we see far too little of him. (According
to IMDB, AH was Munk's only film. I hear he died after downing some Coca-Cola
along with a packet of Pop Rocks.)
Annie Hall includes an amazingly strong supporting cast. None of them are
terribly remarkable here - though they're all good - but it's an impressive
roster. AH features Carole Kane, Shelley Duvall, Christopher Walken, Jeff
Goldblum, John Glover, Shelley Hack, Beverly D'Angelo, and - in a shot from
so far away that the only way you'll know it's her is from the credits -
Sigourney Weaver. Wow! Considering all of these folks were at best
semi-unknowns at the time, that's pretty amazing.
But perhaps not as amazing as the fact that I really liked this film. I
don't expect I'll change my opinion of Woody Allen anytime soon - and I'll
never forgive this movie for stealing the Best Picture Oscar Star Wars
deserved - but I certainly have more respect for the man.
The DVD Grades: Picture B / Audio C+ / Bonus D
Annie Hall appears in both its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1
and in a fullscreen edition on this double-sided, single-layered DVD; the
letterboxed version has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Only the
widescreen side was viewed for this review. I'm not sure why, but I
expected the worst from this transfer. Happily, I was wrong; it's a flawed
but generally good-looking image.
Annie Hall appeared quite sharp throughout much of the film. Some scenes
seemed a little soft; this problem usually occurred when the shots were
somewhat wide, like when we see a splitscreen of both Annie and Alvy with
their therapists. Moiré effects appear occasionally but infrequently and
are fairly mild when they do happen; you might see some slightly jagged
edges on Allen's glasses at times, for instance. The print used was decent
but shows a lot of speckling; these white spots pop up pretty frequently.
The movie also seemed somewhat grainy at times. I noticed no scratches or
more severe marks, though.
Colors look very good for the most part, with thorough saturation and no
bleeding. The bedroom scene with the red light seems a little hazier than
I'd like, but it still looks pretty clean. Overall, hues are natural and
vivid. Black levels are also pretty good but inconsistent; they seem deep
and rich for the most part, but on some occasions they appear slightly
faded. Shadow detail generally seems clear and precise, though some
nightclub segments looked a little more opaque than I'd like. Ultimately,
Annie Hall shows a fair number of minor flaws but overall looks pretty
Annie Hall offers a monaural soundtrack that actually sounds pretty good
and seems perfectly sufficient for this film. This is a tremendously
dialogue-heavy movie; effects and music appear, but I'd guess that speech
constitutes 90 percent of the audio. While I've heard better, I've also
heard a lot worse, and Annie Hall seems like a fairly good mix for such an
Dialogue consistently seems clear and intelligible. It even manages to
appear pretty warm and natural for much of the film. At times the speech
seems a bit harsh or edgy, but not usually. Music and effects both appeared
fairly thin and flat, but since they're such a minor aspect of the mix,
those factors weren't terribly important. The dialogue doesn't sound great,
but it's relatively natural and easily decipherable, so the mix works for
The only real failure of this DVD involves its supplements, or lack thereof.
We get a decent trailer and an eight-page booklet with some relatively
strong production notes; you don't learn a thorough history of the film, but
the text offers some interesting information. Still, it'd be nice to see
some additional materials. Allen doesn't seem like the sort to cooperate
with special editions, so these attempts may be held back by that factor,
but there must be more they could do.
Annie Hall offers a decent but unspectacular DVD. Image and sound are
somewhat above-average, though the extras are very minimal. Still, it's a
very good film and seems to be one that would endure repeated viewings, and
potentially even prosper under such conditions. Annie Hall comes
Final footnote: the review above examined the original MGM release of
Annie Hall that came out in 1998. However, that DVD has now been
replaced by a newer, slightly-less-expensive issue. That one is available
on its own for $19.98 MSRP or as part of the Woody Allen Collection
boxed set along with seven other Allen films; the latter lists for $134.98.
The new release of Annie Hall exactly duplicates the old one with a
few minor exceptions: the artwork and text on the rear of the case are
different, and the original DVD's eight-page booklet has been replaced with
a new four-page product. Surprisingly, the new one offers completely
different text; none of the paragraphs from the original are duplicated. In
any case, the material on the DVDs themselves appear identical; it's the
same transfer and everything else.
Viewer Film Ratings: 4.7209 Stars|| Number of Votes: 86|