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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.53%
Average: 6.38%
Pretty Bad: 2.13%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 35 user ratings

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by Greg Muskewitz

"Only a true New Yorker could personably make such a film, universally loved"
5 stars

Woody Allen’s gorgeous, black-and-white heartfelt billet-doux to his beloved New York City.

Allen is a twice-divorced sitcom writer, currently dating a comely 17-year-old high school student (Mariel Hemingway) while juggling the stresses at work and keeping up with his social obligations. In addition to that, he’s developing a crush on his best friend’s “cerebral” mistress (Diane Keaton) and sparring with his lesbian ex-wife (Meryl Streep) who is writing a tell-all biography about their marriage (and how he tried to “run over” her wife). Out of all the films I have seen by Allen, this just might be my favorite. Manhattan is not all about gags and pranks, or at least not physical ones, but more in a sense of spoken and expressed escapades. Allen is very focused on displaying and sharing his city, not exploiting it; not only is his talent an offering that has originated from the city as well, but his visuals—adroitly embraced and recorded by Gordon Willis in an elegant and indulgent b&w stock, and stretching from end to end in widescreen—encompass the major, the sites that the tourists would hit, but also the minor, which only a native or fanatic would be privy to. Whatever he doesn’t get around to showing (unlike the thunderstorm and subsequent segue into the planetarium, which was one of my favorite scenes, quite familiar with the pathway exiting onto Central Park West and 81st), Allen makes sure to trumpet and gush over with arrow-pointed words (the annual Shakespeare in the Park). Manhattan could easily be his most mature work, because in his clear stream of progression and intent, he doesn’t trip himself up or rattle on aimlessly to nettlesome lengths like he often can. Co-written with Marshall Brickman (who was a better team in creating Sleeper than Mickey Rose was in collaboration with Bananas), this is Allen’s most mellifluous, fervent dialogue with each line pierced and tinged with biting hilarity (“Years ago I wrote a short story about my mother called ‘The Castrating Zionist,’” or “I could tell by your voice, it was very authoritative—like the pope or the computer in 2001,” or “I internalize things—I can’t explain it, I grow a tumor instead,” or “You think you’re God”/ “I gotta model myself after someone”), and throughout the whole running-time, it never loses its grasp. I can easily say that I didn’t want it to end where it did, or would gladly embrace a sequel (I think Jack Mathews expressed a similar desire after reviewing The Curse of the Jade Scorpion), but all of the characters and interior/exterior settings and emotions are uncluttered and unobscured. Allen and Hemingway share some truly tender and romantic moments that often seem missing or at least partially artificial in similar situations in Allen’s films, and the two of them establish an excellent chemistry and validity. The sweet-voiced Hemingway is so spry and refreshing, not overly naïve or put-on, but rather striking all the right notes forcefully or gently when such is required. Keaton also makes for a lot of fun, relishing the position of the pseudointellectual always naysaying other people’s positives and praising the humbugged. She is also used more effectively than in Sleeper, though the silly quagmires she and Allen found themselves in then was surely not devoid of any fun or laughs. With this film, Allen was not only on top of Manhattan, but he was on top of the world!

With Michael Murphy and Anne Byrne.

Final Verdict: A+.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 11/10/01 05:21:41
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User Comments

8/19/16 Suzanne Great cinematography and music; creepy relationship with a 17-year-old 4 stars
10/22/15 David Hollingsworth Amazing film about New Yorkers! 5 stars
2/23/13 Ionicera kind of soapy, dull plot, a few good lines here & there...good cinematography 3 stars
12/21/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess See it! 5 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 5 stars
3/27/08 SamanthaPayntr i love this movie, but Annie Hall is better, love Diane Keaton! 5 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White what a waste of time 2 stars
3/27/07 fools♫gold It reminded me of "City Lights", and that's a HUUUGGEEEE complement. 5 stars
7/11/05 Ron Sid Woody's Best! The film's beauty and dialogue are A+ 5 stars
6/06/05 John Aster Habig wonderful story of midlife crises and divorce that preaches monogamy 5 stars
3/18/05 indrid cold I was highly unentertained. Sadly, I guess it actually is about as good as it gets. 4 stars
6/07/04 Ryan Clark One of the best comedies ever; serious yet hilarious, with brilliant B&W photography. 5 stars
4/23/04 Agent Sands Great one-liners, very well-shot, directed, written, & acted. 5 stars
4/01/04 snow No its not Woodies best.... 3 stars
4/01/04 sansho A loving visual and comic treat, overflowing with warm yet spiky pleasures. Allen's best. 5 stars
1/21/04 Betty White This was when Woody Allen could crank out a good film. 5 stars
7/22/03 Monster W. Kung Allen's best. 5 stars
6/18/03 Andrew Callaway A very good Woody Allen picture.One of his best. 5 stars
4/05/03 Francy Sweet, witty, romantic. I can't express how I loved it. A masterpiece. 5 stars
2/02/03 R.W. Welch Deftly written but you really have to be into trivia. 4 stars
1/28/03 The Aussie Film Reviewer Woody Allen just doesn't rub off on me. Of what I've seen, this is his best, but... 4 stars
1/04/03 Jack Sommersby Woody Allen's best film. 5 stars
10/14/02 Charles Tatum This should have got the Best Picture Oscar, not "Annie Hall" 5 stars
10/09/02 Phil M. Aficionado Wise, witty/funny, insightful, and beautifully acted and filmed 5 stars
4/02/02 lauren mccreight not Woody's best....but worth seeing if you're a fan 3 stars
12/24/01 The Bomb 69 Beautifully shot and well acted film, not as ha-ha funny as other Allen movies 4 stars
12/05/01 Skip Young Woody's best. Glad to see it's #1 here! 5 stars
11/27/01 sdfr glows with the unmistakable aura of genius. 5 stars
11/17/01 Jake A pleasure to watch such a film 5 stars
11/11/01 Andrew Carden Very Good Movie, Hemingway Is Excellent, but Woody Seems Uncomfortable In His Role. 4 stars
8/07/01 E-Funk A quiet, beautiful story told by one of the most gifted men in modern cinema. 5 stars
2/25/01 nick berger yeah 5 stars
3/21/00 shawkin Perfect third act 5 stars
1/02/00 Tyson Stewart Perfect cinematography!! Allen's comic valentine is excellent! 5 stars
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  02-Aug-1979 (R)



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