Study Guide

Annie Hall Scene 1

Scene 1

Scene 1

  • Annie Hall 's opening credits keep it simple: just white names on a black background. No music. If that font looks familiar, it's because it is, Shmooper. Windsor and Woody Allen movies go together like pepperoni and extra cheese.
  • Alvy Singer stands in front of a tan backdrop that screams 1970s and tells a joke about two disgruntled old ladies that sums up his feelings about life. How does he feel? Like life is full of unhappiness, but it's over way too fast.
  • He chases his first joke with a second, usually attributed to Groucho Marx: "I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member." That's the key joke of his adult life when it comes to relationships, he explains.
  • Alvy confesses he's been thinking about a lot of weird stuff lately. Then he rambles for a little bit: about turning forty, about how he's not afraid of getting older, about how maybe he's having a little life crisis. (You think?)
  • Finally, he cuts to the chase. He and Annie broke up. He still can't wrap his mind around it.
  • Before we can ask who Annie is, Alvy's quick to explain that he's not a depressed dude. In fact, he was a totally happy kid growing up in Brooklyn during World War II.
  • Flashback: Young Alvy and his mom are at the doctor's office. Mom's complaining to Dr. Flicker that Alvy's depressed, and the doc's smoking a cigarette. Ah, the good old days.
  • Also, hang on just a second: Didn't Alvy just say that he wasn't depressed and that he had a happy childhood?
  • Lil' Alvy is definitely depressed. He read that the universe is expanding, which means that one day it will break apart. His mom thinks that's no excuse not to do his homework.
  • Dr. Smokestack—er, we mean Flicker—assures Alvy that the universe won't go kaput for billions of years, so we should all enjoy life while we're here. Alvy doesn't seem convinced.
  • The flashback continues. Alvy tells us that he grew up underneath a roller coaster at Coney Island. Maybe all of that shaking, rattling, and rolling explains why he's so anxious.
  • Alvy also confesses to a hyperactive imagination and a problem separating fantasy from reality. While he says this, we see Lil' Alvy cavorting at Coney Island with three military men and a blonde in a red swimsuit. She stops to mug for the camera. Yep, that's one active imagination.
  • The flashback train keeps chugging along, and Alvy takes us to his school. As the camera pans across one grimacing teacher after another at a seemingly endless blackboard, Alvy says that the teachers at his school were the worst.
  • He also says that he discovered women when he was in elementary school—in 1942, to be exact—and we see Young Alvy plant a kiss on a classmate. She hates it. His teacher summons Alvy to the front of the room and says he should be ashamed.
  • Suddenly, adult Alvy is sitting in the classroom, too. He defends himself and his healthy curiosity about the opposite sex, as well as about sex in general, to the teacher.
  • Alvy also admits that he wonders what happened to his teeny-tiny classmates. Then several of the children stand up and say what they grew up to be. "I'm president of the Pinkus Plumbing Company," says one little boy. "I'm into leather," says a little girl in nerdy glasses. Yikes!
  • Alvy goes on to tell us that he grew up to be a comic, and, since we then see him as a guest on The Dick Cavett Show, it's pretty clear that he grew up to be a successful one.
  • Finally, we cut back to Alvy's mom, who's peeling carrots. She's addressing Alvy by way of the camera, so we're in his position; she's talking directly to us. "You were always out of step with the world," she remarks. "Even when you got famous, you still distrusted the world."

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