The dog days are upon us. Friends visit, kids swim and the heat is unremitting Texas summer. We sigh for time to reflect and apologize for the time it has taken to get back to you with the results from the EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy (EFMO) surveys of our two most recent Best Pictures: “Rocky” and “Annie Hall.”
By way of background, “Rocky” was voted the 49th Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) from among the films produced in 1976. In this movie, Sylvester Stallone plays Rocky Balboa, “The Italian Stallion,” a young fighter whose career has deadended before it began. Rocky’s been demoted at his gym, can’t get a date with Adrian at the pet store and is too goodhearted to be a bad guy. His life is over, until he gets the “chance.” That chance is the film Stallone conceived, wrote in part, helped direct and acted for The Stallion and himself, as the names reflect (only one vowel separates them) and the sequels attest (there are total of seven Rocky movies to date).
Our EFMO audience gave Rocky an 8.41 average rating out of 10. This places Stallone and The Stallion at #19 of the first 49 Best Pictures. This is a very commendable showing, and I feel it reflects the film’s wide audience appeal, inherent good manners and basic audience connectivity — despite the violence of the show’s epic finale and fight.
Of the EFMO survey questions, Rocky scored a perfect “Retrieve” for the question that: After watching the show, would you chose to leave that person with whom you are angry on the cold bare hillside or rescue him or her to the comfort of a warm cabin? Immediately after viewing Rocky, no one voted “Leave.” Everyone voted “Retrieve!” Only 7 other of the first 49 Best Pictures were so uplifting to receive zero leave votes: Cavalcade (1933), It Happened One Night (1934), You Can’t Take It With You (1938), Going My Way (1944), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965) and The Sting (1973). With these films, Rocky (1976) is a wonderfully entertaining film of wide audience appeal.
I fear not so “Annie Hall.” Annie garnered the 50th Best Picture Oscar from among the films released in 1977. In so doing, the AMPAS voters passed on “Star Wars!” An exclamation point is, I think, appropriate here — considering that Star Wars was the biggest winner in the other Oscar categories, and time has proven Star Wars to be clearly the most widely entertaining show of 1977.
Who then is Annie Hall and what on earth happened?
Annie Hall is Diane Keaton and the show “Annie Hall” was written for Diane Keaton in the character of Annie Hall by Woody Allen, who plays himself as the neurologically disturbed comedian Alvy Singer, who acts very much like himself, Woody Allen, who both Woody and Alvy try for 93 minutes of steam of consciousness showtime to understand what happened to their romantic relationship with Diane, I mean Annie. Having said that, you begin to see the imbedded and confused humor that drives the picture and the intergalactic forces at play in the eyes of the AMPAS voters as they try to watch and understand the clearly alien antics of Woody, I mean Alvy. Stop here and think of open mic night in the Mos Eisley Cantina on Tatooine with Woody-Alvy stepping to the microphone and stuttering a deadpan joke about the Emperor’s clothing that leaves the audience firing their lasers at each other in tears of laughter as half fall silently to the floor. You get the picture and it is truly a bizarre one, but the unusual craft of the show was clearly appealing to the voting craftsman of the Academy.
One must give Diane Keaton credit for an absolutely marvelous acting job which deservedly merited the 1977 Oscar for Best Actress. It might be said she was the only one who understood what Woody said, and for that she truly deserved the best actress award.
Woody Allen was chosen the Best Director over George Lucas (Star Wars) and Steven Spielberg (Close Encounters of the Third Kind). It could be observed that the movie Annie Hall may have been recognized by the Academy voters as the best science fiction film of the year. From that perspective, Woody may be truly deserving of best director. Here it may be soothing to remember the sonorous lilts of Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes as they play in the background behind Alvy.
How did our AMPAS voters survey the film?
On two EFMO questions, Annie Hall set the record for most votes received. One question asks whether the message of the film is still relevant today? A record number of viewers answered “NO!” Another question asks if this movie were a panhandler approaching your car at the intersection how much money would you hand through the window: NONE $10 $1,000,000 MORE? Immediately after viewing the show, a record number of surveyors answered “NONE!” Overall, our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy audience gave Annie Hall an average rating of 4.62 out of 10, placing Annie near the bottom at #47 of the first 50 Best Pictures reviewed.
Admittedly some of our EFMO audience had never seen Annie Hall or any other Woody Allen movie. On the other hand, a few of the audience admitted to being Woody Allen fans and a few not so. Still one wonders: Would Star Wars have done any better with our EthnoFamilyMovieOgraphy reviewers? Perhaps not. You know not everyone likes science fiction.
See you next time with the Best Picture of 1978, #51 on our list and counting.