Welcome to my column, Colour Me (Dis)Interested (Ha! Isn't it clever?), where I will look at a black-and-white film a week that was filmed in the colour era.
This week, I will be looking at Woody Allen's 1979 classic, Manhattan.
Manhattan is probably the archetypal Woody Allen film. Some of his other films may be better, like Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters but, in Manhattan, all the elements of Allen's style are in perfect balance. There's the jazz, the neurotic, unsympathetic lead, the choice between stable and highly-strung women, the self-mocking humour (hilariously done in the opening voice-over), the railing against intellectual snobbery, the deep unease with popular culture. His script is wit of the highest order. This is not gag-a-minute humour, but an altogether more acute art form stemming from character, some wonderful dialogue and a fair amount of darkness (I love the bit about Isaac trying to run over his ex-wife's lover). Allen is also prepared to turn his biting satire to personal issues, such as being Jewish.
Like many other lovers of this film, I was particularly impressed by the striking black-and-white photography of New York locations, particularly in the opening scenes. As one might expect from a director who is himself a talented musician, Woody normally pays a lot of attention to his musical scores; here the music of George Gershwin, particularly his "Rhapsody in Blue", seems very appropriate to the mood of the film. These factors contribute greatly to the success of this film, but for me it is perhaps most memorable as Woody's most penetrating analysis of human relationships. It is a film that I find more in every time I see it.