Woody Allen disliked his work in this film so much he offered to direct another film for United Artists for free if they kept Manhattan (1979) on the shelf for good. Allen later reportedly said: "I just thought to myself, 'At this point in my life, if this is the best I can do, they shouldn't give me money to make movies'."
There is allegedly a clause in the studio's contract for the film that mandates that the movie must always be shown in letterbox format in any home video release and/or TV/cable broadcast.
After the success of Annie Hall (1977), United Artists executives told Woody Allen's producers, Charles H. Joffe and Jack Rollins, to give Allen a message, "From now on, make whatever you want".
The film is one of eight collaborations between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Allen co-starred in six of them, and directed seven.
According to Wikipedia, "The famous bridge shot was done at five in the morning. The production had to bring their own bench, because there were no park benches at the location. The bridge had two sets of necklace lights on a timer controlled by the city. When the sun came up, the bridge lights went off. [Cinematographer Gordon] Willis made arrangements with the city to leave the lights on and that he would let them know when they got the shot. Afterwards, they could be turned off. As they started to shoot the scene, one string of bridge lights went out, and [Woody] Allen was forced to use that take".
The film features the music of George Gershwin including his famous piece, 'Rhapsody in Blue', which has been said to have inspired the movie. In a discussion with 'Silvio Bizio', Woody Allen said that the picture "evolved from the music. I was listening to a record album of overtures from famous George Gershwin shows, and I thought 'This would be a beautiful thing to make a movie in black-and-white, you know, and make a romantic movie".
According to Jeff Stafford at the TCMDb, "When Manhattan (1979) was first released, there was some criticism leveled at the film for its depiction of a romance between a teenager and a 42-year-old man but several biographical sources have suggested that the relationship had a real-life parallel in Woody Allen's two-year romance with actress Stacey Nelkin. Reportedly, Allen met Nelkin on the set of Annie Hall (1977) when she was a mere 17-year-old extra (her small part ended up on the cutting room floor). Certain aspects of the Isaac-Tracy relationship may also have been inspired by Allen's real-life correspondence with 13-year-old pen pal Nancy Jo Sales".
While this is Woody Allen's least favorite of the movies he has directed, this was the most commercially successful film of his career. He said years later that he was still in disbelief that he "got away with it".
Woody Allen has said of this film: "I presented a view of the city as I'd like it to be and as it can be today, if you take the trouble to walk on the right streets".
According to the "Every Woody Allen Movie" website, "Isaac's full list of things that make life worth living [were]: Groucho Marx, Willie Mays, the 2nd movement of the Jupiter Symphony, Louis Armstrong's Potato Head Blues, Swedish movies, Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert, Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, those incredible Apples and Pears by 'Paul Cézanne', the crabs at Sam Wo's, [and] Tracy's face".
Woody Allen has described the film as being a combination of his previous two films, Interiors (1978) and Annie Hall (1977).
All music on the movie's soundtrack were pieces of music from composer George Gershwin. The compositions were performed for the film by two orchestras, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
At the box office, the film was the sixth-highest-grossing film in the USA in 1979 and grossed more money than Woody Allen's Academy Award-winning success Annie Hall (1977).
Mariel Hemingway was Oscar-nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Tracy. She lost to Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). Streep also has a role in this film.
Manhattan (1979) was the third consecutive Best Original Screenplay Academy Award nomination in three consecutive years for Woody Allen but on this occasion shared with Marshall Brickman. The previous two Oscar noms were for Interiors (1978) and Annie Hall (1977), Allen winning only one of these, for the latter. For an Oscar, Allen would not be next nominated again for a script until Broadway Danny Rose (1984). From there, he would be nominated for the next three films in three consecutive years amounting to four Oscar screenplay noms in a row.
One of the very few Woody Allen films to not have traditional opening credits, save the production company bumper (United Artists), and the film title MANHATTAN is seen as a long vertical flashing bright neon sign, located on the side of a New York City building, and is seen for under seven seconds just before Woody Allen narrates his first line.
Stacey Nelkin, whom Woody Allen dated while she was at New York's Stuyvesant High School, was reportedly the inspiration for the character of Tracy.
Famous Manhattan cultural landmarks and significant locations seen in the movie include Central Park, the Queensboro Bridge, Bloomingdales, Broadway, Madison Avenue, Greenwich Village, Zabar's, Riverview Terrace, Fifth Avenue, the Russian Tea Room, the Hayden Planetarium, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Staten Island Ferry, Sutton Square, Park Avenue, the Temple of Dendur, Elaine's Restaurant, the East Side and the Upper East Side, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, and the Whitney Museum of Modern Art.
Woody Allen plays a TV writer in this movie. In real life, Allen was a television comedy writer during the 1950s.
Woody Allen wanted Jodie Foster for the role of Tracy which in the end went to Mariel Hemingway.
Isaac gets annoyed with Mary's habit of pronouncing the name 'van Gogh' as rhyming with the word 'Loch' (as in 'Loch Ness') instead of rhyming with 'low'. Mary's version is closer to the correct Dutch pronunciation.
In an interview with 'The Reeler', director of photography Gordon Willis said of this film: "After the completion of Annie Hall (1977) we simply proceeded to shoot Manhattan. Woody Allen felt New York should be in black-and-white... we both did. I pushed for anamorphic (widescreen) because I like the graphics.... thought it would be a very good combination for the picture........ Widescreen.... black-and-white. I think we talked about shooting it at lunch one day. We both like the same things..... it was an easy decision".
First film in black-and-white directed by Woody Allen. First film directed by Woody Allen to be shot using the widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic Panavision process. MANHATTAN is also distinguished in the realm of NTSC/PAL home video tape cassette (VHS) as the first motion picture film to be released on home video only in the widescreen version. VHS had the then television standard Aspect Ration of 1.37:1 (4:3) requiring the need for large black bars at the top and the bottom of the screen (pillar-boxed). The director Woody Allen wanted everyone viewing MANHATTAN in their home, to experience the full image exactly as seen in cinemas. If you zoom the original 2.35:1 image to exactly fit the 1.37:1 (4:3) television screen, you permanently delete forty-three percent of the image from view. MANHATTAN released on blu-ray NTSC/PAL has the full image exactly as seen in cinemas, with the widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic Panavision version. MANHATTAN released on dvd NTSC/PAL does not have the full image exactly as seen in cinemas, because the required widescreen Aspect Ratio (2.35:1) anamorphic Panavision version, has been converted to the Aspect Ratio of 1.78:1 so the original image has been cropped on the left and right, so a whopping twenty-four percent of the image has been cut and permanently deleted from view.
The United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2001.
The film features in a cameo Tisa Farrow who is the sister of Mia Farrow who was notably Woody Allen's partner for over a decade and starred in thirteen of his movies. Mia Farrow's first collaboration with Allen was A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982). As such, Tisa Farrow appeared in a Woody Allen film before Mia did.
Mariel Hemingway's grandfather Ernest Hemingway would later be depicted as a character in another Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris (2011), in which he was played by Corey Stoll.
The film's famous black-and-white movie poster featuring an image of a couple sitting on a park bench next to the Queensboro Bridge has become iconic in film history.
One of a number of pictures which were filmed in black-and-white by director Woody Allen during his immediate post-Annie Hall (1977) period between the late 1970s and early-mid 1980s. The films include Manhattan (1979), Stardust Memories (1980), Zelig (1983) and Broadway Danny Rose (1984). Allen would then not make another B&W film for about another seven years, until Shadows and Fog (1991).
Presentations of this film on television (broadcast, cable or home video) required preservation of the widescreen format. This presented a problem in the U.S. since certain F.C.C. technical regulations did not permit a portion of the screen to be left blank as in letterboxing. The problem was solved by making the area above and below the frame gray. The regulations have since been changed and letterboxing with black borders is now permitted.
When Isaac talks to Mary in the museum, he says that the brain is the most overrated body part. In Sleeper (1973) Miles Monroe says that it's his second favorite body part.
According to the 'Virgin Film Guide', "The producers petitioned to change the 'R' rating to a 'PG' [for the USA] but were turned down, mostly because of the content concerning the older man [Isaac, Woody Allen] and the teenage girl [Tracy, Mariel Hemingway]".
The last collaboration between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton until Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993), 14 years later. Keaton had a cameo in Radio Days (1987) around eight years after this film.
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep; and one Oscar nominee: Mariel Hemingway.
Studio United Artists originally had concerns about letting Woody Allen make a black-and-white picture due to the form's lack of commercial potential but UA executives eventually relented and allowed Allen to make a B&W film.
First film shot using the widescreen (2.35:1) anamorphic Panavision process for a film directed by Woody Allen.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Isaac lists Frank Sinatra as one of his reasons to live. Woody Allen had a decade long relationship with Sinatra's ex-wife Mia Farrow two years after this film.
As of December 17 2018, it is believed that the true inspiration of this film was 16-year-old Babi Christina Engelhardt. According to a new story, she began a hidden eight-year affair with the 41-year-old filmmaker in 1976 that mirrors many aspects of the plot of the film.
The picture is ranked at the No. #76 spot on movie magazine Empire's Poll of the 500 Greatest Movies ever made.
This is the first of 21 Woody Allen films edited by Susan E. Morse. She edited all of his subsequent films up to and including Celebrity (1998).
One of three 1979 movies starring actress Meryl Streep first released in that year. The pictures are Manhattan (1979), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979).
The name of the book that Jill (Meryl Streep) wrote was "Marriage, Divorce and Selfhood".
The picture is ranked at the No. #46 rank on the AFI's "100 Years...100 Laughs" list.
First of five movie collaborations that actor Wallace Shawn has made with Woody Allen. The films are Manhattan (1979), Radio Days (1987), Shadows and Fog (1991), The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001), and Melinda and Melinda (2004).
In the famous discussion about morality toward the end of the movie, Isaac (Woody Allen) suggests to Yale (Michael Murphy) that cheating and lying eventually leads to the kind of betrayal that caused people to end up "in front of a Senate committee naming names," a clear reference to the communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. In the earlier movie The Front (1976), Woody Allen plays a character who submits scripts for his screenwriter friend (played by Michael Murphy) who has been blacklisted as a suspected communist.
Woody Allen was top first billed, Diane Keaton was billed second, Michael Murphy was third billed, Mariel Hemingway was fourth billed, Meryl Streep was billed fifth and Anne Byrne Hoffman was sixth billed.
The movie inspired the song, "Remember Manhattan", released on Richard Marx's debut album.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, for Best Supporting Actress (Mariel Hemingway) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Woody Allen and Marshall Brickmam), but failed to win either Oscar.
The opening music is George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" performed by Andre Previn the ex-husband of Woody Allen's longtime girlfriend Mia Farrow and the father (by adoption) of his now wife Soon Yi Previn.
The name of the dog, a Dachshund, was "Waffles". According to website 'Wienerdogs', "In the movie..."Waffles" [is] a standard smooth Doxie belonging to Diane Keaton...Waffles is seen in the house, being held during a conversation, and taken for a walk during a date".
First of two Woody Allen films with the word "Manhattan" in the title. The second would be Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) made and first released around fourteen years later in 1993. Allen also appeared uncredited in Sophie Lellouche's Paris-Manhattan (2012).
Ignoring the contractually required widescreen Aspect Ratio (2.35:1) anamorphic Panavision version, in December 2019 the Australian cable channel FOXTEL SHOWCASE is screening MANHATTAN in a version that has been converted to the Aspect Ratio of 1.78:1 so the original image has been cropped on the left and right, so a whopping twenty-four percent of the image has been cut and permanently deleted from view. In the opening sequence at around 3 minutes, the word "BROADWAY" created using light bulbs is only seen as "ROADWA".
On the DVD, this film features the later United Artists logo in B&W but in Woody Allen's next film Stardust Memories (1980), also in B&W, the UA logo at the start of the movie is in color.
In a 2015 interview to promote her upcoming memoir, Mariel Hemingway spoke up about the how the role that won her an Academy Award nomination was actually quite a disturbing experience. At the time of filming, she was a 16-year-old "virgin" who'd never even really made out with anybody. She worried about her kissing scene with Woody Allen for weeks, repeatedly asking how long the scene was going to be. She was scared and even asked her mother, "How do I make out?" When they finally shot it, Hemingway said Allen attacked her like she was a linebacker. After the first take she ran over to the film's cinematographer, Gordon Willis, and asked, "I don't have to do that again, do I?" But everybody just laughed. Hemingway details in her memoir that once she turned 18, Allen flew out to her parents's home in Idaho and repeatedly asked her to go to Paris with him. Hemingway told her parents that she didn't know what the sleeping arrangement was going to be, and that she wasn't sure if she was even going to have her own room. She wanted them to put their foot down but they didn't. In fact, though Allen was in his mid-forties at the time, they kept lightly encouraging her to go. Allen left Idaho via private jet the next morning after Hemingway informed him if she wasn't getting her own room, she couldn't go with him.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
Manhattan (1979), co-written by Marshall Brickman, was the first of three movies he wrote featuring "Manhattan" in the title. The other two are The Manhattan Project (1986) and Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993).