The Original Title Was "Anhedonia"
Defined as the inability to experience pleasure, that was the movie's title just a few weeks before its release on April 20, 1977. Not surprisingly, United Artists objected. Woody Allen had also considered calling the film "Anxiety" or "Alvy and Me," and his writing partner Marshall Brickman jokingly suggested "Me and My Goy" or "It Had to Be Jew." But in the end, the movie was named after its lead actress, Diane Keaton, whose birth name was Diane Hall and nickname was "Annie."
Diane Keaton Wore Her Own Clothes
The "Annie Hall look"—marked by blazers, neckties, baggy pants and hats—became a craze in the late '70s. But costume designer Ruth Morley couldn't claim credit for it, since the quirky get-up was simply the way Diane Keaton dressed in real life. In fact, Morley objected to the idea of Keaton wearing her own clothes in the movie. Then Woody weighed in, saying of Keaton, "Leave her. She's a genius."
The Role Was Always Keaton's
The Annie Hall character was written specifically for Diane Keaton. The director's former girlfriend, she had already co-starred with Woody Allen in three movies ("Play It Again, Sam," "Sleeper" and "Love and Death"). They were no longer a couple when "Annie Hall" went into production.
An Early Version of the Film Was Long and Complicated
The first cut was two hours and 20 minutes long, and included entire plot lines—one was a murder mystery—that didn't make it into the final cut. In fact, the original version didn't really focus on the romance between the movie's main characters, Annie Hall (Keaton) and Alvy Singer (Allen). Once it was decided that their relationship should be central to the film, it had to be extensively reworked.
Some of the Cut Scenes Turned Up in Other Movies
The murder mystery subplot that was cut "Annie Hall" resurfaced in the 1993 Woody Allen film "Manhattan Murder Mystery." Also eliminated was a fantasy scene in which Annie and Alvy tour Hell with Satan and Richard Nixon. That bit turned up two decades later in "Deconstructing Harry" (seen here).
Photo: Fine Line Features
Marshall McLuhan Wasn't First Choice for the Marshall McLuhan Scene
Allen tried to get Italian director Federico Fellini—whose films are glibly dismissed by a pompous academic in the scene on the movie line—to appear in "Annie Hall," but he declined. So did the Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel. In the end, Woody settled on media theorist Marshall McLuhan, whose cameo ("You know nothing of my work") is among the movie's most memorable bits.
That Was No Truman Capote Look-Alike
Remember the people-watching scene in Central Park when Alvy, sharing a light moment with Annie, jokes that "there's the winner of the Truman Capote look-alike contest"? If the man Alvy is pointing out strikes you as a dead ringer for the author of "In Cold Blood," there's a reason. He's played in a cameo by the real Truman Capote.
The Sneeze Wasn't in the Script
In one memorable scene—when Alvy sneezes into an open box of his friend's cocaine, sending the $2,000-per-ounce white powder into the air like a puff of smoke—Allen wasn't following his screenplay. He improvised the sneeze on set, and the gag stayed in the movie.
From the Outset, Allen Aimed for Spontaneity
Annie and Alvy's clowning around in lobster scene—the first scene to be filmed—was also largely improvised.
Keaton Is Annie Hall Only to a Point
Although Allen aimed to capture his ex in the personality and mannerisms of Annie Hall, the actress and the character aren't exactly the same. "I never said 'la-di-da' in my life until he wrote it," Keaton said in an interview. "But I was a person who couldn't complete a sentence."
The Movie Has a Star-Studded Cast
Despite its $4 million budget, "Annie Hall" features an impressive number of stars and stars-to-be. Paul Simon is perfect as a smarmy record producer, as is Tony Roberts as Alvy's best friend. Also in the lineup: Carol Kane (Alvy's ex-wife), Colleen Dewhurst (Annie's mother), Christopher Walken (Annie's suicidal brother) and Shelley Duvall (a Rolling Stone reporter who has "Kalfkaesque" sex with Alvy). Not to mention a cameo by Jeff Goldblum ("I forgot my mantra") and an uncredited Sigourney Weaver in her screen debut.
Young Alvy Had Another Reason to Be Depressed
In flackback scenes of Alvy's childhood, he had a girlfriend played by Brooke Shields, then 11 years old. Unfortunately, she ended up on the cutting room floor.
Woody Came Up With the Ending in the Back of a Cab
Allen and his co-writer had trouble finding a way to wrap up the story, and the original film was delivered to film editor Ralph Rosenblum with the words "ending to be shot." Then, with a rough cut already being screened, Allen got an idea in the back of a taxi. That led to the "egg" joke and the now famous final observation about relationships: "I guess we keep going through it because most of us … need the eggs."
The Director Was (Of Course) a No-Show
"Annie Hall" beat "Star Wars," the year's odds-on favorite, and became the second-shortest film ever to win a Best Picture Oscar (the shortest was 1955's "Marty"), The Woody Allen film also won Academy Awards for Best Actress, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. In her acceptance speech, Diane Keaton gave a heartfelt thanks to Woody, who was in New York, playing clarinet at Michael's Pub.
He's His Own Biggest Critic
Despite its enormous success, "Annie Hall" was a letdown for its director, who really wanted to make the more complex film he originally had in mind. "In the end, I had to reduce the film to just me and Diane Keaton and that relationship," Allen said in 2012. "So I was quite disappointed in the end of that movie."
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