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While ANNIE HALL ($25), the 1977 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, is filmmaker Woody Allen's best-received film, MANHATTAN remains my personal favorite, and a film I hope will be issued on DVD sometime soon.

ANNIE HALL is the story of neurotic New York comic Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and his relationship with Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). The film traces the relationship through all its ups and downs, and shows how two people are changed through their long time association. Woody Allen has filled ANNIE HALL with a series of comic moments that show the relationship at its best and at its worst. Stylistically, ANNIE HALL is quite inventive and purposefully disorienting- just like someone experiencing a real relationship. The movie uses various filmmaking devices such as flashbacks, flash forwards, slapstick, monologues and even animation to make its keen observations about life, love and relationships.

Allen's script, written with Marshall Brickman, is filled with delightfully wicked barbs and one liners that skewer both east and west coast lifestyles, social conventions as well as men and woman in general. Allen has made a career of portraying the same kind of nebbish New York neurotic that he plays hilariously well in ANNIE HALL. Diane Keaton gives a warm and affecting performance as the title character, a woman who comes to grips with her insecurities and is stronger person by the end of the film. The excellent supporting cast of ANNIE HALL features Tony Roberts, Carol Kane, Paul Simon, Shelley Duvall, Janet Margolin, Colleen Dewhurst and Christopher Walken.

MGM Home Entertainment offers ANNIE HALL in both wide screen and full screen presentations on opposite sides of the DVD. If you don't mind watching a cable television equivalent of the film, then the full screen version is okay. However, no Academy Award winner for Best Picture should be viewed in anything other than its original aspect ratio. The Letterboxed transfer looks good, although it doesn't include the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. Gordon Willis' simple but effective cinematography is reproduced with respectable detail and natural looking colors. There were minor incidents where digital compression artifacts were detectable.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack was clean, with precise and easily intelligible dialogue. The DVD also includes a French monaural soundtrack. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish. The interactive menus offer the standard scene and language selection features, in addition to a theatrical trailer, trivia and production notes.

As I stated above, ANNIE HALL is one of Woody Allen's best films and it is certainly great to have another Academy Award winning Best Picture available on DVD. Recommended.


Annie Hall (1977)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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