Manhattan (1979)


Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance

Cast: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep

Synopsis: Part love letter to Manhattan, part chronicle of a really fucked up man’s love life.

Here’s a great question to ask movie lovers: if you could take one movie and make it 3D, which one would it be? I always said that I would choose The Shining but, after watching Manhattan, that choice may be under threat. The opening montage to this movie was absolutely perfect. Never have I seen someone capture the spirit of Manhattan so brilliantly: its strength, beauty, anger, passion, scale, grandeur and pure untamable energy. The decision to couple the opening shots with Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ and Allen’s nervous voice-over was a stroke of genius. If this opening was in 3D I think I would have has some sort of visual orgasm.

I’ve visited New York quite a few times and it’s an absolutely magical city. I’ve always thought that it would be a place that I would love to live but, after living in California and fitting in so well there, I’ve been forced to re-asses that. London is driving me crazy with stress and New York is probably much more intense. I mean, it’s not all gallery openings and living in beautiful apartments despite not having a high-paying job (fuck you Carrie Bradshaw and friends). Still, there’s something special about the city and Allen’s love for the place really shines through. Who could possibly deny the beauty of that film-defining shot of the Queensboro Bridge? I love movies that evoke such a vivid sense of place.

As a film, Manhattan really showcases Allen’s talent for writing and directing. Every actor gave his or her best and the dialogue was crisp and witty. I can see why so many people consider Manhattan to be Allen’s magnum opus but, personally, I prefer the realistic intimacy of Annie Hall. I feel as though everyone can relate to Annie Hall whereas Manhattan seems only to be relatable if you lived in New York in the 70s, were part of the literati crowd, and had a really bizarre sex life. Having said that, I appreciate Allen’s aching honesty in this movie. He puts his messed-up sex-life front and centre in this movie and is unapologetic about it. He’s all like: “Yeah, I like jail-bait, so what!?” I mean, that doesn’t make it any less creepy but it’s better to be open about these things. Maybe that’s what I need to do in order to become a great writer. Are you guys interested in hearing about my creepy Grindr hookups? I’m sure I could write some really cringey short stories on that and become this generation’s gay Woody Allen. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing though.


  • The opening. It is surely one of cinema’s greatest openings.
  • Meryl Streep delivers another fantastic performance. She’s fabulous and I never use that word. I want long beautiful golden locks like hers…maybe then I’d win an Oscar.
  • New York in the 70s must have been awesome. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade.
  • Wonderful soundtrack.


  • Even a film of this caliber can’t mask Allen’s creepiness. The scene in which he tenderly strokes Mariel Hemingway’s neck? I’d be all like: “DON’T TOUCH ME OLD MAN!!!” Cringe.
  • I wish I’d seen it on the big screen. It’s hard to get a sense of the scale without seeing it in a cinema where you can really benefit from the 2.35:1 widescreen.


Although not my favourite Allen movie, Manhattan is still one of his greats. It’s a lot more visual than some of his other work so, if you like to smoke, then I’d recommend something that’s going to help you enjoy the awe-inspiring shots of New York and the powerful soundtrack. You’ll cringe for sure but, with a film so smart, it’s well worth it.




Filed under Comedy, Drama, Great, Romance

8 responses to “Manhattan (1979)

  1. nasen75

    DON’T 3D this movie. 3D is for Titanic, which is the doctrine of, “If you can’t make it good, make it 3D.”

    • Generally speaking, I agree with you, I’m not a big fan of the 3D craze at the moment but, in some instances, I think it can be used to great effect. You’re right, I hope they never actually turn this movie into 3D but if it was originally made in an ‘Avatar’ kind of 3D I think it could be quite impressive.

  2. Wish I was Meryl Streep, then I’d have nice things.

  3. One of my favorite movies, and oh my goodness the opening and Meryl are too gorgeous. Wasn’t sure where you were going with the 3D thing at first but I actually might agree.

  4. Good review. It’s not my favorite from Woody, but it still has plenty of moments that work and make you laugh, while also giving you thoughts as well.

  5. You know, for a huge fan of film, I should probably be ashamed that I’ve never seen a Woody Allen film…

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