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Hannah and Her Sisters

Hannah and Her Sisters(1986)

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

SYNOPSIS

Hannah (Mia Farrow), who is married to Elliot (Michael Caine), is the level-headed glue that holds the family together. Her beautiful sister Lee (Barbara Hershey) lives with Frederick (Max von Sydow), a reclusive older artist who is sure that Lee will one day leave him. The third sister Holly (Dianne Wiest) is the deeply neurotic ne'er-do-well of the family, at once deeply adoring of Hannah while at the same time harboring poisonous resentment towards her. While Hannah stays busy trying to solve everyone else's problems, she doesn't notice when her husband takes an obsessive interest in her sister Lee, which leads to a guilt-ridden affair. Meanwhile, Hannah's hypochondriac ex-husband Mickey (Woody Allen) is certain that he is dying and embarks on a quest to find a religion he can believe in.

Director: Woody Allen
Executive Producer: Jack Rollins, Charles H. Joffe
Producer: Robert Greenhunt
Associate Producer: Gail Sicilia
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Cinematography: Carlo Di Palma
Editing: Susan E. Morse
Production Designer: Stuart Wurtzel
Set Designer: Carol Joffe
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland
Makeup: Fern Buchner
Cast: Woody Allen (Mickey), Michael Caine (Elliot), Mia Farrow (Hannah), Carrie Fisher (April), Barbara Hershey (Lee), Lloyd Nolan (Hannah's Father), Maureen O'Sullivan (Hannah's Mother), Daniel Stern (Dusty), Max von Sydow (Frederick), Dianne Wiest (Holly), Lewis Black (Paul), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Mary), Christian Clemenson (Larry), Julie Kavner (Gail), J.T. Walsh (Ed Smythe), John Turturro (Writer), Rusty Magee (Ron), Ira Wheeler (Dr. Abel), Richard Jenkins (Dr. Wilkes).
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Why HANNAH AND HER SISTERS is Essential

Funny and poignant, intimate and complex, Hannah and Her Sisters is considered by many to be among writer-director Woody Allen's best and most richly satisfying films of his entire career.

Hannah and Her Sisters was the first film in which Woody Allen depicted the warmth and life-affirming aspects of family life in one of his films as opposed to previous stories that centered around single characters or dysfunctional families (Interiors, 1978). It marked a turning point in his work towards a more mature level of complexity that began to show in his subsequent films. The film also offers a rare dash of optimism with the film's uncharacteristically upbeat ending.

With its sharp dialogue, well-drawn characters and Chekhovian balance of comedy and pathos, the screenplay for Hannah and Her Sisters is one of Woody Allen's finest. It won him his second Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (the first was for 1977's Annie Hall).

Hannah and Her Sisters features one of Woody Allen's most talented and accomplished ensemble of actors including Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Dianne Wiest, Michael Caine, Max von Sydow, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lloyd Nolan and Sam Waterston. Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest both won Oscars® in the Supporting Actor categories for their performances.

Hannah and Her Sisters was a rare instance of Woody Allen making a film that was both lavished with praise by the critics and loved by audiences as well. The film was one of his most profitable films at the box office.

This film marked the first time Woody Allen worked with cinematographer Carlo Di Palma. Allen usually used Gordon Willis, who had been the cinematographer on every one of his films since the Academy Award-winning Annie Hall in1977, but he was unavailable for Hannah due to a scheduling conflict. Di Palma's excellent work on Hannah led to a new collaborative relationship with Woody Allen that would last over a decade.

by Andrea Passafiume

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Like many of Woody Allen's films, the soundtrack for Hannah and Her Sisters featured songs and music by some of America's greatest songwriters and composers. Among the tunes that can be heard in the background are "I've Heard That Song Before" by Jule Styne & Sammy Cahn (performed by Harry James), "I Remember You" by Victor Schertzinger & Johnny Mercer (performed by Dave Brubeck), "I'm in Love Again" by Cole Porter (performed by Bobby Short), and "You Are Too Beautiful" by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart. In addition, you can hear some of the cast members singing snatches of popular songs such as "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" sung by Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O'Sullivan or Carrie Fisher singing "The Way You Look Tonight" and Dianne Wiest singing "I'm Old Fashioned."

Lewis Black, who made his film debut in a small role in Hannah and Her Sisters, is a playwright and popular stand-up comic. He appears often on TV on such programs as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has supplied voices for such animated series as Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and The Brak Show.

Maureen O'Sullivan, Mia Farrow's mother, enjoyed a career revival after appearing in Hannah and Her Sisters and went on to star in Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) with Kathleen Turner & Nicholas Cage, the sci-fi drama Stranded (1987) starring Ione Skye and several made-for-TV movies such as With Murder in Mind (1992) and The Habitation of Dragons (1992), written by Horton Foote.

by Andrea Passafiume

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

At 107 minutes, Hannah and Her Sisters was Woody Allen's longest movie up to that point in his career.

Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were a well-established couple at the time Hannah and Her Sisters was made. It was the pair's 5th film together.

Max von Sydow's character Frederick was originally named Peter. When von Sydow was cast, Woody Allen thought the name Frederick would fit von Sydow's European persona better.

Despite winning numerous accolades for it, the famously self-deprecating Woody Allen reportedly thought that the best film of 1986 was not Hannah and Her Sisters but David Lynch's Blue Velvet. In a 1987 interview with Tom Shales, Allen said, "I don't think Hannah is as good as Blue Velvet. The best picture of the year was Blue Velvet, in my opinion. I just liked everything about it." When Lynch subsequently received an Oscar® nomination as Best Director for Blue Velvet, he reportedly quipped to the press, "I'd like to thank Woody Allen."

Woody Allen, as usual, did not attend the Academy Awards ceremony the night Hannah and Her Sisters was up for 7 awards. Instead, he was performing his regular Monday night gig on the clarinet at Michael's Pub in New York City.

Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus has a small role as one of Woody Allen's TV-show co-workers in Hannah and Her Sisters.

Many of Mia Farrow's real life children can be seen in the background of the family scenes throughout Hannah and Her Sisters, including Woody Allen's future wife, Soon-Yi Previn who is visible at the kids' table during Thanksgiving dinner at the end of the film.

Michael Caine was not able to attend the Academy Awards ceremony when he was up for Best Supporting Actor in Hannah and Her Sisters due to schedule conflicts while shooting his next film, Jaws: The Revenge (1987). Presenters Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Bridges accepted the award on his behalf when Caine was announced as the winner.

There was an explicit lovemaking scene between Elliot and Lee that was shot and cut from the final version, according to Michael Caine. In his 1992 memoir What's It All About? he describes a heated scene between the two lovers in a boat. "I had never seen this before in one of Woody's films," he said, "and thought that by the time we came to shoot it, it would either be toned down or cut entirely, but it wasn't....we shot it, to the great embarrassment of both Barbara and myself, because although you couldn't actually see anything, the movements had to be realistic and we were both relieved when it was finally over. I was still worried that it did not really belong in the movie, and in fact Woody cut the whole sequence from the final film."

Memorable Quotes from HANNAH AND HER SISTERS

"I'm going through a period in my life where I just can't be around people. I don't want to wind up abusing anyone."
"You're such a puzzle. So sweet with me and contemptuous of everyone else."
--Frederick (Max von Sydow)/Lee (Barbara Hershey)

"I prefer to sell my work to people who appreciate it, not to rock stars."- Frederick

"I like him. I think he's a sweet guy...'cause he's a loser. He's awkward and clumsy like me. I always like an underconfident person, you know?"- Mickey (Woody Allen), speaking about Elliot (Michael Caine)

"You've had some dizzy spells. What about ringing and buzzing? You notice any of that?"
"Now that you mention it, I have buzzing and also ringing. Ringing and buzzing."
- Doctor / Mickey

"Naturally I get taken home first. Obviously he prefers April. Of course. I was so tongue-tied all night...My stupid roller-skating joke. I should never tell jokes. Mom can tell them, and Hannah, but I kill them."- Holly (Dianne Wiest), in her internal monologue as she's being taken home by her love interest David (Sam Waterston)

"I hate April. She's pushy."- Holly, in her internal monologue, referring to her friend April (Carrie Fisher)

"This is degrading. You don't buy paintings to blend in with the sofa."
"It's not a sofa, it's an ottoman."
- Frederick / Dusty (Daniel Stern)

"A week ago I bought a rifle. If they told me I had a tumor I was going to kill myself. The only thing that might have stopped me -- might have- is my parents would be devastated. I would have to shoot them also, first, and then, I have an aunt and uncle. It would have been a bloodbath." - Mickey

"It's a good thing we have a talented daughter."
"I can only hope that she was mine! With you as her mother, her father could be anybody in Actors Equity!"
- Norma (Maureen O'Sullivan) / Evan (Lloyd Nolan)

"God, she's beautiful. She's got the prettiest eyes. She looks so sexy in that sweater. I just want to be alone with her and hold her and kiss her and tell her how much I love her and take care of her. Stop it, you idiot. She's your wife's sister. But I can't help it. I'm consumed by her. It's been months now. I dream about her. I think about her at the office. Oh, Lee, what am I going to do? I hear myself moaning over you and it's disgusting. Before, when she squeezed past me at the doorway and I smelled that perfume on the back of her neck, Jesus, I thought I was going to swoon. Easy! You're a dignified financial advisor. It doesn't look good for you to swoon."- Elliot, in his internal monologue about Lee

"Millions of books written on every conceivable subject by all these great minds, and in the end none of them knows anything more about the big questions of life than I do."- Mickey, in an internal monologue

"Nietzche, with his theory of eternal recurrence. He said that the life we live we're going to live over and over again in the exact same way for eternity. Great. That means I'll have to sit through the Ice Capades again."- Mickey, in an internal monologue

"I was in analysis for years. Nothing happened. My poor analyst got so frustrated, the guy finally put in a salad bar."- Mickey, in an internal monologue

"You don't deserve Cole Porter. You should stay with those groups that look like they're going to stab their mothers."- Mickey, to Holly after their bad first date

"I had a great evening. It was like the Nuremberg trials."- Mickey, to Holly after a bad date between the two.

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Hannah and Her Sisters began as the annual WAFP (otherwise known as the Woody Allen Fall Project) for 1984-85 - a routine undertaking for the dedicated and prolific auteur. Ever since 1977's Annie Hall, Woody Allen had made one film a year like clockwork via a strict, disciplined process that had become a well-oiled machine: Allen would write it, cast it, and shoot it quickly, efficiently and always under budget. The WAFP would generally get a real title somewhere in the middle of filming, and by the time the picture was ready for release, Allen would already be hard at work on his next WAFP. As far as Woody Allen was concerned, there was nothing particularly special about Hannah and Her Sisters-- it was just another WAFP.

According to Hannah and Her Sisters co-star and Woody Allen's longtime partner Mia Farrow, the subject of sisters had always been a topic that intrigued Allen. "He had been close to Janet Margolin, his leading lady in Take the Money and Run [1969], and her two sisters;" said Farrow in her 1997 memoir What Falls Away, "then with Diane Keaton and her two sisters; and now there was me and my three sisters. While we walked, worked, ate, slept and lived our lives, the story of Hannah was fleshed out, detail by familiar detail."

When Allen gave his completed script to Farrow to read, she was critical of it - something she had never been before, according to her. "To me," she said, "the characters seemed self-indulgent and dissolute in predictable ways." She also couldn't help but notice that there were some things in the Hannah screenplay that hit a little close to home. "It was my mother's stunned chill reaction to the script that enabled me to see how he had taken many of the personal circumstances and themes in our lives, and, it seemed, had distorted them into cartoonish characterizations," she said. "At the same time he was my partner. I loved him. I could trust him with my life. And he was a writer: this is what writers do. All is grist for the mill. Relatives have always grumbled. He had taken the ordinary stuff of our lives and lifted it into art. We were honored and outraged."

When the time came to cast the film, Allen told Farrow that she could play any part she wanted. However, he did have a preference. "...he felt I should be Hannah," said Farrow, "the more complex and enigmatic of the sisters, he said, whose stillness and internal strength he likened to the quality Al Pacino projected in The Godfather [1972]." Farrow agreed and began preparing for her role in the fifth film she would be making under Allen's direction.

With Farrow cast as Hannah and himself as Hannah's ex-husband Mickey, Woody Allen set about finding the right actors to fill out the other roles. For Hannah's sisters, Allen hired established actress Barbara Hershey as Lee and the lesser known Dianne Wiest as the neurotic sister Holly. It would be the first time Hershey had appeared in a Woody Allen film, and the second time for Wiest who had played a supporting role in his 1985 film The Purple Rose of Cairo.

For the part of Hannah's husband Elliot, Woody Allen originally wanted Jack Nicholson. He talked to Nicholson at length about it, but in the end the actor had to pass on Hannah, having already committed to making John Huston's mobster drama Prizzi's Honor (1985).

Allen subsequently turned to Michael Caine for the part. Caine had been a friend of Mia Farrow's for over 20 years, though he had never worked with her in a film. In fact, Caine had been the person who had originally introduced Farrow to Woody Allen in 1980 at Elaine's restaurant in Manhattan, so there was a special connection between them. "Using an English actor was not my first choice," said Allen in a later interview. "Because I wrote it for an American, I wanted an American. But I was very lucky to get Michael. Michael Caine, I've often said, is incapable of an unreal moment. He's just one of those actors who was born graceful in front of the camera and he's a truly, truly fabulous movie actor. I mean, he's got what you want for the movies, a complete ease and naturalness. Nothing ever seems like acting."

Michael Caine had always been a fan of Woody Allen's work and thought the part of Elliot was strong. He agreed, like all of Allen's actors, to work for a fraction of his usual salary to be in Hannah and Her Sisters. "I had heard so many conflicting stories about working with Woody," he said in his 1992 memoir What's It All About?, "that I wanted to find out for myself."

To round out the cast, Allen added a touch of old Hollywood by hiring veteran actors Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O'Sullivan to play Hannah's bickering showbiz parents. Playing Hannah's mother wasn't a stretch for O'Sullivan, as she was Mia Farrow's real-life mother as well. O'Sullivan had made a name for herself playing Jane to Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan in MGM's popular Tarzan film series throughout the 1930s and 40s. Hannah would mark O'Sullivan's return to the silver screen after a 20 year absence.

Hannah and Her Sisters would also be the first film since the Academy Award-winning Annie Hall on which Woody Allen would not be using longtime cinematographer Gordon Willis. Willis had been responsible for the look of many of Allen's most visually beautiful films such as Manhattan (1979), Zelig (1983) and The Purple Rose of Cairo. However, he was committed to working on another project that created a scheduling conflict with Hannah. Allen used cinematographer Carlo Di Palma instead, and it ushered in the beginning of a new collaborative relationship between the two that would last over a decade.

by Andrea Passafiume

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Shooting began on Hannah and Her Sisters in the Fall of 1984 in New York City. Woody Allen used Mia Farrow's real-life apartment on Central Park West as Hannah's home in the film. Farrow's real-life children were also used in the big family Thanksgiving scenes that bookend the film. With those details--along with having Farrow's real-life mother Maureen O'Sullivan playing Hannah's mother--it made the film something of a family affair, bringing a warmth and familiarity to the set.

Since Farrow and her extensive brood were actually living in Hannah's fictional apartment during filming, they had to do their best to go about the usual daily routine in a way that fit into the shooting schedule. "The place was pandemonium," said Farrow in her 1997 memoir What Falls Away. "The rooms were clogged with equipment. Forty people arrived at dawn crowding into any available space, our personal treasures were spirited away to who-knew-where. The kitchen was an active set for weeks...Some nights I literally couldn't find my bed...It was strange to be shooting scenes in my own rooms - my kitchen, my pots, my own kids saying lines, Michael Caine in my bathroom, wearing a robe, rummaging through my medicine cabinet. Or me lying in my own bed kissing Michael, with Woody watching...The commotion, and not being able to find anything, sometimes got me a little crazy. But the kids loved it."

At times co-star Michael Caine felt like he was in the middle of an intimate home movie. "It got so domestic that when we were shooting the sequence [in Mia's apartment], I would often see Mia serving up food to her numerous offspring," said Caine in his 1992 autobiography What's It All About?. "The assistant director would come into the kitchen and say, You are wanted on set, Miss Farrow.' Mia would stop ladling out food, take off her apron and go into the other room and start acting and at the end of the scene she would rush back into the kitchen."

Sometimes, according to Caine, things could get surreal under such circumstances. "When we got to the bedroom scenes, which were shot in Mia's real bedroom (although for propriety's sake I think we had a different bed), things became even more cozy until one day I wound up doing a love scene in bed with Mia in her own bedroom, and being directed by her lover!" said Caine. "This was nerve-racking enough but got even worse when I looked up during the rehearsal to find her ex-husband Andre Previn watching us from the other side of the bedroom. He had come to visit the children and found us all there. It took all my concentration to get through that scene!"

Other than those uncomfortable moments, Michael Caine found working on Hannah and Her Sisters to be a rewarding experience. He enjoyed being directed by Woody Allen for the first time. "Being an actor himself," said Caine, "Woody was wonderful to work with. He understood the problems and was very tolerant of them and he was a specialist in detail."

Caine found that making a comedy with Allen was serious business. "When people hear that I have worked with Woody they often think it must be a very amusing experience," said Caine, "but in fact the exact opposite was true. He was a very quiet and sensitive man who liked to work in a very quiet atmosphere, so even the crew on his pictures - who for the most part have worked with him many times, were the quietest crew with whom I have ever worked. The atmosphere on Woody's set was a bit like working in church...Like all comedy writers he doesn't say funny things, but listens to hear if you say something funny that he can use."

It was a source of great joy for Caine to work surrounded by so many talented actresses. He found Mia Farrow great fun to be with, Barbara Hershey a "gifted actress and lovely woman," Carrie Fisher "wildly funny" and Dianne Wiest very talented. "Dianne Wiest was another actress in the film of whom I had never heard," said Caine, "but I soon saw how good she was and was hence very surprised when Woody started to give her a tough time, making her do scenes over and over again. I think I figured out what he was doing. She was playing a neurotic in the movie, but was so happy at having got the part she was having difficulty in being miserable, so Woody fixed it."

According to Mia Farrow, Woody Allen was never able to find an ending to Hannah and Her Sisters that satisfied him. He ended up giving the film an uncharacteristically upbeat ending, though it was a decision that he would never stop re-thinking. "I had written a different ending that was not as upbeat: Michael Caine's character is still hopelessly in love with Hannah's sister, who has married another guy because he couldn't bring himself to act, and he's stuck with Hannah and it's going to be a nothing marriage," Allen told Entertainment Weekly in 2008. "And I shot that ending. But when I looked at it, it was like the picture dropped off the table. It was negative, a downer. So I guided the thing instinctively to an ending where all the characters came out happy, and the picture was very successful. But I never felt positive about it. I felt I had a very poignant idea but finally couldn't bring it home."

Audiences disagreed with Allen and embraced Hannah and Her Sisters with open arms when it was released in 1986. The movie was universally praised, making it a rare critical and commercial success for the famously New York-centric director. People noticed a warmth and optimism present in Hannah that was missing in his earlier works and responded in kind. Its family-centered story and broad themes seemed more accessible, and there was a new depth and humanity present that signaled a new maturity in Allen's work that would help usher in the next phase of his prolific career.

Hannah and Her Sisters was nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine) and Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest). Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest both won, as did Woody Allen for Best Original Screenplay. It was Allen's second win in that category - the first time had been for his 1977 Best Picture winner Annie Hall.

Hannah and Her Sisters went on to become one of the most successful films of Woody Allen's 40+ year career and one of the most beloved. To this day Hannah routinely tops the list whenever critics rank the best of Woody Allen's films.

by Andrea Passafiume

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teaser Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) was described by Woody Allen as one of his "novels on film." And it is novelistic in style, in denseness and complexity of characters and story, even down to its chapter headings. The film portrays the lives and tangled relationships of Hannah, her two sisters, her parents, her husband and ex-husband, and assorted friends and relatives over the course of two years and three Thanksgivings. During that time, relationships begin and end, lives change, and life goes on. Allen told the New York Times that at first he "had a simple plot about a man who falls in love with his wife's sister." But re-reading Anna Karenina gave him the idea of experimenting with a novelistic style, intercutting and intertwining various stories.

Allen had been involved with Mia Farrow since 1980, and she had appeared in all four of his films since then: A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982), Zelig (1983), Broadway Danny Rose (1984), and The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985). Allen readily admitted that Hannah and Her Sisters was "a romanticized view of Mia." And Hannah is indeed romanticized: a serene, competent woman who successfully juggles a complicated life and a demanding family. The connections between actress and character are many and obvious: Farrow's actress mother, Maureen O'Sullivan, plays her mother; seven of Farrow's children appear in the film; Farrow's father, like Hannah's, was a director, and many of the characters were reportedly based on members of Farrow's family. The film was even shot in Farrow's Central Park West apartment. But now, knowing the disastrous end of the Allen-Farrow liaison, what is one to make of some less benevolent coincidences? Hannah's husband, after all, is unfaithful with a member of her own family. Hannah's serenity might be seen as obliviousness, or unwillingness to show her own vulnerability.

With Farrow as the film's center, and Allen playing her ex-husband, the director cast Hannah and Her Sisters in his usual brilliantly idiosyncratic style. Michael Caine, a close friend of Allen's, played Hannah's neurotic husband, Elliot, a departure for the suave Caine. He decided that Elliot was another Woody Allen alter ego, and decided to play him as such, complete with Allen's trademark black-rimmed glasses. The performance won him an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. The film's other Oscar winner was Dianne Wiest, who played Hannah's quirky, insecure, sister Holly. Barbara Hershey also turned in a strong performance as Lee, the third sister, who has an affair with Elliot. Allen said he cast Hershey because "she gives off enormous erotic overtones." Used to working with stellar actors, Allen was nevertheless intimidated when Max von Sydow agreed to play the older artist Hershey lives with. Allen worships the films of Ingmar Bergman, and declared himself "in awe" of Von Sydow, one of Bergman's favorite actors.

Of course, in any Allen film set in New York, the city itself is a character. Hannah and Her Sisters joins Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) as another of his valentines to the Big Apple. This time, Allen was fortunate to have the services of the great Italian cinematographer Carlo Di Palma, who had worked with Antonioni and Bertolucci. Years earlier, Allen had wired Di Palma asking him to work on Take the Money and Run (1969), but Di Palma wasn't available. When they finally did work together, Allen was touched to learn that Di Palma had kept that telegram. Di Palma's ravishing color images of Manhattan are a highlight of Hannah and Her Sisters. Music, too, is important in Allen's films, and the director's use of music in Hannah and Her Sisters is particularly eclectic and complex, from classical and opera to pop and jazz. Each of the characters has her own musical motif, from Rodgers and Hart to Bach. The musical cues, like the chapter headings, help establish the tone of the scene.

As usual on a Woody Allen film, re-shooting was the rule rather than the exception. A part of the budget was even set aside for this purpose, and only about 20 percent of the original script ended up in the film. Many completed scenes were discarded, such as an art gallery sequence with Tony Roberts and a fairly explicit sex scene between Hershey and Caine (Allen decided to cut it because he felt it was inappropriate for "a Woody Allen film"). The upbeat ending was one of the scenes that was added later. The original cut of the film ended with Elliot still in love with Lee despite the fact that she has married her college tutor but Allen recalled that this conclusion "was so down for everyone that there was a huge feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction every time I screened it."

In Woody: Movies From Manhattan by Julian Fox, "Barbara Hershey has said she found the filming a grueling experience: there were some lighthearted moments but usually it was a very serious set. This view was confirmed by Caine who recalled in his autobiography that it was the quietest set he had ever come across, 'a bit like working in church.'" Carrie Fisher, who appears in a minor role as April, a friend of Holly's, later voiced her opinion of the film's understated theme for the New York Times: "We can go to shrinks for 50,000 years and know why we do everything and then go back and do it again. You can have your mistakes, and repeat it, too."

Hannah and Her Sisters was one of Woody Allen's most financially and critically successful films. Besides the two acting Academy Awards, the film earned Allen an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and was also nominated for Best Film, Best Director, Best Production Design and Best Set Decoration.

Director: Woody Allen
Producer: Robert Greenhut
Screenplay: Woody Allen
Editor: Susan E. Morse
Cinematography: Carlo Di Palma
Art Direction: Stuart Wurtzel and Carol Joffe
Cast: Mia Farrow (Hannah), Woody Allen (Mickey Sachs), Barbara Hershey (Lee), Dianne Wiest (Holly), Carrie Fisher (April Knox), Michael Caine (Elliot), Maureen O'Sullivan (Norma), Lloyd Nolan (Evan), Max von Sydow (Frederick), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Mary), Julie Kavner (Gail), J. T. Walsh (Ed Smythe), Lewis Black (Paul), John Turturro (writer).
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by Margarita Landazuri

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Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

AWARDS AND HONORS

Hannah and Her Sisters received 7 Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine), Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest), Best Editing and Best Art Direction. It won 3: Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor.

Hannah and Her Sisters won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Comedy/Musical. It was nominated for 4 other Golden Globe awards: Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Michael Caine), Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest) and Best Screenplay.

The film won two BAFTA awards for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It was nominated for 6 others: Best Actor (Woody Allen), Best Actor (Michael Caine), Best Actress (Mia Farrow), Best Supporting Actress (Barbara Hershey), Best Editing, and Best Film.

The Boston Society of Film Critics awarded Hannah and Her Sisters prizes for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Dianne Wiest).

The French Syndicate of Cinema Critics named Hannah and Her Sisters the Best Foreign Film of 1986.

The London Critics Circle named Woody Allen the Screenwriter of the Year for his Hannah and Her Sisters script.

The National Board of Review named Woody Allen the Best Director of the year for his work on Hannah and Her Sisters and Dianne Wiest the Best Supporting Actress.

The New York Film Critics Circle named Hannah and Her Sisters the Best Film of 1986 and Woody Allen the Best Director of the year. Dianne Wiest was also honored as Best Supporting Actress.

The National Society of Film Critics awarded their Best Supporting Actress prize to Dianne Wiest for her work in Hannah and Her Sisters.

Woody Allen won the Best Original Screenplay Writers Guild of America (WGA) award for Hannah and Her Sisters.

Awards & Honors

"Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters, the best movie he has ever made, is organized like an episodic novel, with acute little self-contained vignettes adding up to the big picture. Allen's writing and directing style is so strong and assured in this film that the actual filmmaking itself becomes a narrative voice, just as we sense Henry James behind all of his novels, or William Faulkner or Iris Murdoch behind theirs." - Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times

"From the first, soaring notes of Harry James' trumpet playing "You Made Me Love You," which is heard behind the opening credits, until the series of reconciliation scenes that bring the film to a close, Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters is virtually nonstop exhilaration - a dramatic comedy not quite like any other, and one that sets new standards for Mr. Allen as well as for all American movie makers. It's warmhearted, wise and fiercely funny, demonstrating a rigorous command of a talent that, in the manner of Jack's prodigious beanstalk, won"t stop growing." - The New York Times

"Manhattan - the one in the Rodgers and Hart song, the city of dreams in 30s movies, the old apogee of swank - has become a figment of Woody Allen"s imagination. Thank heavens. Reclamation of the borough's tattered image could be in no better hands." -- Time Magazine

- Allen strikes gold as he examines some typically interesting and neurotic New Yorkers whose lives intertwine. Superbly cast with Woody in peak form as Farrow's hypochondriac ex-husband; Wiest in a powerhouse performance as Mia's self-consumed, self-destructive sister. There's also an atypical Allen touch of warmth, even sentiment, as frosting on the cake - all of it set to some wonderful old songs." - Leonard Maltin, Movie and Video Guide

"A minor, agreeably skillful movie by Woody Allen, a new canto in his ongoing poem to love and New York City which includes Annie Hall [1977] and Manhattan [1979]. It's likable, but you wish there were more to like. All the vital vulgarity of Woody Allen's early movies have been drained away here, as it was in Interiors [1978], but this time he's made the picture halfway human. (People can laugh and feel morally uplifted at the same time.) The willed sterility of his style is terrifying to think about; the picture is all tasteful touches, and there's an element of cultural self-approval in its tone, and a trace of smugness in its narrow concern for family and friends. He uses style to blot out the rest of New York City. It's a form of repression, and, from the look of the movie, repression is what's romantic to him." -- Pauline Kael

"Hurrah for Hannah, Woody's latest - and greatest - is really Manhattan with a heart." - Kathleen Corliss, The New York Daily News

"In one magnificent film Woody Allen has fully rounded and refined his art. The performances are uniformly flawless and the material is so well conceived that characters with a mere five to seven minutes of total screen time make tremendous impressions." - Kenneth M. Chanko, Films in Review

"Perfection is boring, but boring is the very last word to describe Hannah and Her Sisters, which just may be a perfect movie. Mellow, beautiful, rich and brimming with love, Hannah is the best Woody Allen yet and, quite simply, a great film. His cast is absolutely splendid, although it must be said that he's loaded the dice in the women's favor." - Sheila Benson, The Los Angeles Times

"...a great film, the richest and most complex of Woody's creations, and also the most fluent." - David Denby, New York Magazine

"If you are still in touch with your own heart, or feel the need to share it with people you love you'd be mad to miss it. Hannah and Her Sisters is a work of astonishing wisdom and maturity that embraces life in all its crazy, contradictory emotional contexts touching - instructing , and uplifting the lives of all who see it." - Rex Reed, New York Post

"Hannah and Her Sisters is one of Woody Allen's great films. Indeed, he makes nary a misstep from beginning to end in charting the amorous affiliations of three sisters and their men over a two-year period." -- Variety

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

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