I'm looking forward to spending some time with one of my favorite families this Thanksgiving weekend, Hannah and Her Sisters (as well as her other relatives and friends).
|Dianne Wiest, Oscar winner|
The film begins with one family Thanksgiving dinner and ends with another. Opening credits roll as the Harry James Orchestra croons "You Made Me Love You," and the story begins to the same band's snappy version of "I've Heard That Song Before." It is Thanksgiving in Manhattan and Hannah's family comes together in her spacious, character-drenched, softly-lit Upper West Side apartment. The parents of Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her sisters, a crusty and eccentric pair of old-school show biz troupers (Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O'Sullivan) take a moment to sit down at the piano and sing a duet on "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," a tune that recurs, usually by way of tinkling ivory keys, throughout the film. Meanwhile, Hannah's husband Elliott (Michael Caine) has been ruminating on his fascination with his wife's sister, Lee (Barbara Hershey).
|O'Sullivan and Nolan|
|'Holly and Mickey' in Central Park|
Hannah and Her Sisters brims with warmth as it casts a wry gaze on the misadventures of its confused but not-difficult-to-relate-to characters. It deservedly earned three Academy Awards (Weist, Caine, Allen) and was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, art direction and editing. It is a gem.
The gifted Mr. Allen, now 75, is the auteur director of more than 40 films over the past 45 years, a writer on nearly 60 films and actor in 40+. Along with his screenwriting Oscars, he's won a Best Director award for Annie Hall. Allen began as a comedy writer for Sid Caesar's popular Show of Shows during TV's golden age of the 1950s, became a successful stand-up comedian, had short stories published in The New Yorker and wrote two Broadway hits, Don't Drink the Water and Play it Again, Sam. Today he continues to make films and also performs as a classic New Orleans-style jazz clarinetist.
|Woody Allen (center) on the set of Hannah and her Sisters|
Many thanks to Chris of Movies Unlimited's MovieFanFare website and Ivan of LAMB's 'Classic Chops' for republishing this post during Thanksgiving week 2011.