Described by Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice as "the one truly great American film of the ’70s," Manhattan was the movie where everything fell into place for Woody Allen, the triumphant crystallization of his cinematic style, sensibility and philosophy. Today, 35 years later, it remains for many, perhaps even most people, his greatest achievement and his most beloved film.
Allen plays Isaac Davis, a TV writer who dreams of becoming a heavyweight author. He is obsessed in roughly equal measures with himself and New York. A hopeless, but somehow—as always with Allen—serially successful romantic, Isaac is coping with divorce from his waspish WASP wife Jill (Meryl Streep), while being torn between two lovers, one the innocent and adoring teenager Tracy (Mariel Hemingway)—obsessive Woody-watchers will note the clear Soon-Yi early warning signs—and the other, Mary (Diane Keaton), the sometime lover of his best pal Yale (Michael Murphy).
In the famous opening sequence, accompanied by Isaac’s stuttering tribute and the strains of Gershwin’s ’Rhapsody in Blue’, the New York cityscape is captured by cinematographer Gordon Willis (renowned for, among other things, his work on the Godfather films) in a stunning black-and-white montage and has rarely looked so good.