"Manhattan" Is Released
Manhattan is a 1979 romantic comedy film about Isaac Davis (Woody Allen), a twice-divorced 42-year-old comedy writer dating a 17-year-old high school girl (Mariel Hemingway). Isaac eventually falls in love with his best friend's mistress (Diane Keaton). The movie was written by Allen and Marshall Brickman, who had also successfully collaborated on Annie Hall, and directed by Allen. Manhattan was filmed in black and white and 2.35:1 widescreen.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Mariel Hemingway) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. It also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film. The film was #46 on American Film Institute's "100 Years... 100 Laughs". This film is number 63 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies". In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
On the heels of Annie Hall, the Oscar-winning romantic comedy that rocketed Woody Allen to the front ranks of American filmmakers, Manhattan continued Allen's romantic obsessions in a slightly darker, more pessimistic vein. Allen stars as Isaac Davis, a TV comedy writer sick of the pap he is forced to churn out and harboring dreams of being the great American novelist. His love life is in barbed-wire territory: he is tormented by his second ex-wife Jill (Meryl Streep), a lesbian who has written a tell-all book about their marriage, and he is dating teenager Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), to whom he refuses to commit, and keeps hinting that a breakup may be imminent. Isaac's disillusioned (and married) best friend Yale (Michael Murphy) has begun an affair with the cerebral writer Mary Wilke (Diane Keaton). While Isaac makes a last minute, sink-or-swim decision to quit his job and devote all of his time to book writing, and neurotically moans about what the lack of a full time job will do to him ("My parents won't have as good of a seat in the synagogue," he moans. "They'll be far away from God... away from the action") Yale is crippled by his lack of resolve, as indicated by his inability to leave his wife Emily (Anne Byrne). Meanwhile, Isaac and Mary) begin to fall for one another. Tracy then tells Isaac the basic truth that none of his hung-up friends and past lovers fully realizes: "You have to have a little more faith in people." Manhattan is both a seriocomic dissection of perpetually dissatisfied New Yorkers and an ode to the city itself, filmed in glorious black-and-white by ace cinematographer Gordon Willis, and set to a score of rhapsodic George Gershwin music. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide