Sunday, June 01, 2014

indelible moment: Allen's "Manhattan"

Yale & Mary's Academy of the Overrated
There's a scene from the 1979 Woody Allen movie, "Manhattan," in which Isaac Davis (Allen) does his best to put up with an insufferable conversation between his best friend, Yale (Michael Murphy), and Yale's pretentious mistress, Mary Wilke (Diane Keaton). Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), Isaac's teen girlfriend, is a bystander.

The dialogue is by Allen and Marshall Brickman.

Yale: (to Mary) "Gustav Mahler? Hmmm, I think he may be a candidate for the old Academy... " (to Isaac) "...Oh, we've invented the Academy of the Overrated - for such notables as Gustav Mahler..."

Mary: "And Isak Dinesen, Karl Jung."

Yale: "F. Scott Fitzgerald..."

Mary: "Lenny Bruce! We can't forget Lenny Bruce now, can we? And how about Norman Mailer?"

Isaac: (disgusted) "I think those people are all terrific, every one that you've mentioned. What about Mozart? You guys don't want to leave him out. I mean, while you're trashing people..."

Mary: (ignoring him) "Oh! What about Vincent van Gogh? Or Ingmar Bergman?"

Isaac: (outraged by now) "Bergman? Bergman? Bergman is the only genius in cinema today!"

Mary: (finally acknowledging him) "His view is so Scandinavian. It's, it's bleak. My God! Real adolescent! You know, 'fashionable pessimism.' I mean, 'The Silence.' God's silence. I mean, OK, OK! I loved it when I was at Radcliffe but, I mean, OK, you outgrow it. You ab-so-lutely outgrow it..."

Fade out.


wwolfe said...

I love that scene. The writing is sharp and Allen's reaction to Yale and Mary, and the type of person they're meant to represent, is perfect. (I also found it admirable that Keaton chose to play the role of a fairly disagreeable character, since she could have cashed in big by simply playing copies of Annie Hall for the next several years.)

Abbie said...

WOW! Great sequence. I love that Mary in particlar is so pretentious!

walter Pompei said...

Heinrich Boll was also part of the academy but it was left out of this text.