MANHATTAN was a lot more fun back in 1979, as Woody Allen’s neurotic gig hadn’t yet been run totally into the ground, and well before his fall from grace (with many fans) over his controversial personal life. Getting rave reviews, it pulled in at the #17 slot for the year, grossing almost $46,000,000, making it, with inflation adjusted, Allen’s nearest runner-up to the great Annie Hall. Too bad it doesn’t hold up that well.
Much lauded for Gordon Willis’ fine black & white lensing, it was Oscar nominated for its Screenplay (co-written by director Allen with Marshall Brickman) and for Supporting Actress (Mariel Hemingway).
Plenty of good lines, but the 42-year-old Allen’s romance with 17-year-old Hemingway now seems ickier than ever, and it makes for an unsettling viewing experience. Standard supersharp work from Diane Keaton, Michael Murphy and Meryl Streep, but with everyone in the movie directed to be as nervous and wracked as Allen, by the time its 96 minutes wrap you’re done with listening to them kvetch, namedrop and sputter. Great music courtesy of George Gershwin, especially memorable at the beginning of the lopsided love story, with “Rhapsody In Blue” punctuating glorious fireworks over the New York City skyline.
With Anne Byrne Hoffman, Michael O’Donoghue, and in bits Karen Allen, Wallace Shawn and Bella Abzug.