Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.
Genre: Cynical Romantic Comedy
Walken in Short: A single scene of iconic greatness
Director: Woody Allen
Writers: Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman
Duration: 1 hour 33 minutes
Available: on DVD, Blu-ray, VHS. Heck I imagine it’s probably on laserdisc somewhere.
Actors: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Carol Kane, Shelley Duvall, Janet Margolin, Jeff Goldblum
Comparable Films: (500) Days of Summer, High Fidelity, London, Up In the Air
Movie in a Sentence: A neurotic comic analyzes his past relationship with a free-spirited woman, and by extension examines his life in general.
Should You Watch: Yes. You should. That’s it. Just watch it.
RATING: I’ll go 9 out of 10. It’s quotable, wry, and annually rewatchable.
Walken Content: His entire performance in this film is clocked at a mere ninety seconds but wowzers what a memorable scene. Word on the street is that Walken got his role in The Deer Hunter because of this little monologue.
Fun Fact: His scene was originally cut from the film for pacing reasons!
Walken Quote: “Can I confess something? I tell you this because as an artist I think you will understand. Sometimes when I’m driving on the road at night, I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast, I have the sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly head on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.” ~ Duane Hall (Walken)
General Thoughts: Classic Woody Allen. One of his best, surely. At least among his romantic comedies. He strikes a precarious balance between sarcastic and vulnerable, self-deprecating and narcissistic. Such deliciously human contradictions for a misanthrope to embody!
And the film is introspective but it never feels stagnant because it’s always moving. That’s why he can get away with moping around the whole time. This is such a high energy movie – even if it is mostly people talking.
There’s always movement and conflict. Whether it’s the invasion of the spider, the last-ditch escape attempt of lobsters, Annie driving insanely fast in traffic, or the cacophony that is Woody’s childhood family, the viewer is always being taken somewhere and given something sweet to chew on.
And then he’s at a party. And then he’s back in gradeschool. And then he’s interviewing random people on the street about their lives and getting painfully honest responses. Suddenly he’s been cartoon-ized and he’s having a lover’s spat with Snow White’s Evil Stepmother. Always moving, always surprising.
From what I gather, this film is a bit biographical, both for him, and Diane Keaton (who played Annie). Supposedly, Diane’s real name is Diane Hall and her nickname used to be Annie. Huh! Isn’t that’s funny! Also, her and Carol Kane (Alison Porchnik) have been friends since they were young. So. There’s that.
Listen. Everyone knows this is a great film. I’m not saying anything new here. And Walken is perfection in it. Quiet, intense, barely contained, bat-shit-crazy perfection. Walken was given a tiny throwaway role, the crazy-brother-of, and he nailed it so hard that people are still talking about it thirty years later.
Great review! The greatest things about Walken’s “bat-shit-crazy perfection” are (A) that it swims up like a giant pike–the kind that chase your boat–into the repressed calm of Annie’s tensely repressed, WASP family and their chats about, as Alvy puts it, “Boat basins and swap meets”…and (B) that the punchline is delivered scenes later, as the hammered Mr and Mrs Hall insist that Duane drive Annie and Alvy to the airport…at night, in a downpour, with oncoming headlights.
You see Walken’s glazed eyes staring ahead, the insane smile, the windshield wipers that barely work, then pan to Diane/Annie’s clueless expression (she’s used to her whacko bro’)…and Allen’s terrified face as he glances at Duane, incapapable of thinking of anything but that speech about the car crash!