Tagged: Annie Hall

Purple Bananas.

No. No. No.  Just no.

A list of Woody Allen’s greatest movies, with no mention of Bananas or The Purple Rose Of Cairo?

Funny story: Bananas was actually responsible for my premature birth. My mom was on bed rest for the last two months of her pregnancy. A work colleague of hers came over for a visit, and began describing the infamous newsstand scene. (Very, very NSFW)

He started laughing, and she started laughing, and she laughed so hard that her water broke and she had to be rushed to the hospital because I JUST WOULD NOT WAIT.

Purple Rose could be defined by the single word: bittersweet. It is charming and hilarious and hopelessly romantic and idealistic and heartbreakingly sad. I’m not the biggest Mia Farrow fan, but this is the performance of her career. Jeff Daniels in the dual role of the matinee-idol screen star and his onscreen alter ego is simply pitch-perfect. The story is a fantasy, but has a weird air of inevitability to it. Why CAN’T movie characters walk off the screen and into the real world? In a way it makes perfect sense but it retains its goofy fantasy aspect. You want it to be true, even as Cecilia realizes, it can’t possibly be true.

In case you can’t tell, I love it to bits.

I agree with two of the other choices: the brilliant and morally profound Crimes and Misdemeanors at #4, and Hannah and Her Sisters at #3. I happen to think that HAHS is possibly one of the most New Yorkish of movies, more so than Annie Hall, which never much grabbed me.  By that I mean it has the soul of the city permeating every frame, not merely that it is set in the city. (A list of excellent New York films would include obvious choices like Saturday Night Fever and Taxi Driver, but also the ageless Ghostbusters.) Plus Michael Caine, Dianne Wiest, and the luminous Barbara Hershey, who has never received the acclaim that is due her.

Woody Allen’s father in the movie (“How the hell do I know why there were Nazis? I can’t figure out how the can opener works!”) is played by Leo Postrel. In another example of the multiple ways that Woody Allen has tangentially had an impact on my life*, Leo was responsible for introducing my mom to my dad, way back in the early ’70s.

There is one other Woody flick I wish had made it onto the list: Oedipus Wrecks, the third and only worthy episode of New York Stories.

Oh. My. Gawd but that is one side-splitting, labor-inducingly funny movie.

Woody and his mother, from Oedipus Wrecks.

*Someday, dear readers, I’ll tell you about the time I smacked Soon-Yi Previn Allen. Forty years on and she is still the only person in my life I have ever physically struck.