Interiors

SCREENING COMPANION

Interiors
1978

-“Interiors” (1978) is comedic writer/director Woody Allen's first serious dramatic film, and is a stylistic homage to the films of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, who’s films Woody greatly admired.

-Throughout the early 1970s [Woody] had suffered numerous personal crises watching films by Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman and then looking at his own films (which at the time were comedies like Bananas and Sleeper) and asking himself “what am I doing?” With “Annie Hall” he had wanted to make something deeper and more meaningful, but throughout the writing, filming and producing, he found himself “retreating to the safety of broad comedy.” [2]

-Woody didn’t meet any resistance from UA about making a drama. Woody says the UA execs said, “You’ve made some funny films, and now you feel like you want to try something else. You’ve earned it. Go ahead.” [4]

-The huge success of “Annie Hall” now fully allowed Woody to make any movie he wanted.

-Woody Allen was known for comedy, and wanted to break the mold by having no humor at all in this picture. At one point the family is gathered around the table laughing at a joke which Arthur has just told, but we never hear the joke. [1]

-Gordon Willis, Annie Hall’s cinematographer, works with Allen again on this movie. Some familiar devices remain — the long unbroken shots, the reactive camera — but a completely different effect is achieved. During long, spontaneous-sounding conversations between family members who move freely in and out of frame, we feel like we’re naturalistically watching a family fall apart without any filter in between. [2]

-The camera also has a tendency to stay back from the action, making everything feel cold and removed, like it’s there but would rather not be. [2]

-This is also the first movie where Allen as a director has had to push actors to give serious performances. [2]

-Woody Allen: “Interiors was what I wanted to do and the best I could do it at the time. I wanted to work in dramatic films a little bit. I didn’t want to work in them most of the time, but I wanted it to be part of my production. And I was not going to start off with any half-hearted measure. I was not going to do a little bit of dram or a conventional drama or a commercial drama. I wanted to go for the highest kind of drama.” [4]

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STREAMING
DIRECTOR:
Woody Allen
SCREENPLAY:
Woody Allen
PRODUCER
Robert Greenhut
CINEMATOGRAPHY
Gordon Willis
EDITOR
Ralph Rosenblum
CASTING
Juliet Taylor
RUNTIME:
92 Minutes
BUDGET:
$10 Million
GROSS:
$10.4 Million
PRODUCTION:
Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions
DISTRIBUTOR:
United Artists
RATED:
PG
ASPECT RATIO:
1.85:1
U.S. RELEASE DATE:
August 2, 1978
DISTRIBUTOR
United Artists
RUNTIME
92 Minutes
BUDGET
$10 Million
GROSS
$10.4 Million
RATED
PG
ASPECT RATIO
1.85:1
US RELEASE DATE
August 2, 1978
Picture of film's poster
DIRECTOR:
Woody Allen
SCREENPLAY:
Woody Allen
PRODUCER:
Robert Greenhut
CINEMATOGRAPHY:
Gordon Willis
EDITING:
Ralph Rosenblum
CASTING:
Juliet Taylor
PRODUCTION DESIGN:
Mel Bourne
RUNTIME:
92 Minutes
BUDGET:
$10 Million
GROSS:
$10.4 Million
PRODUCTION:
Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions
DISTRIBUTOR:
United Artists
RATED:
PG
ASPECT RATIO:
1.85:1
U.S. RELEASE DATE:
August 2, 1978
PREMISE

The story of a very dysfunctional family and what happens when the parents divorce. Eve (Geraldine Page) and Arthur (EG Marshall) are a 60-something couple, recently separated. They have three adult daughters - Renata (Diane Keaton), Joey (Mary Beth Hurt) and Flyn (Kristin Griffith). Renata is a poet and is married to Frederick (Richard Jordan). Joey is (reluctantly) in advertising and is married to Mike (Sam Waterston). Flyn is a film and TV actress. Eve is an incredibly negative woman and this has had a toxic effect on her children. This results in stifling, unsupportive relationships and joyless lives. [1]

CAST
Geraldine Page
...................................................................................................................................
Eve
Diane Keaton
...................................................................................................................................
Renata
Mary Beth Hurt
...................................................................................................................................
Joey
Kristin Griffith
...................................................................................................................................
Flyn
Richard Jordan
...................................................................................................................................
Frederick
E. G. Marshall
...................................................................................................................................
Arthur
Maureen Stapleton
...................................................................................................................................
Pearl
Sam Waterston
...................................................................................................................................
Mike
...................................................................................................................................
...................................................................................................................................
...................................................................................................................................

The Follow-up that Nobody Expected...or Wanted

-It's common when a director or an actor has a major hit on their hands that they are awarded the leeway to create their passion project they always dreamed of doing. The problem often arises when audience expectation don't match up with the follow-up project they are often given and a disconnect occurs between audience and director/actor. This stark contrast to the previous hit is met with disappointment and usually box office failure. [WLC]

-Woody Allen: “…People were so shocked and so disappointed with me that I broke my contract with them, my implicit deal with them. And this particularly this kind of drama. It’s not the kind of drama Americans like very much anyhow. What passes for drama in America is something, more television style, soap opera kind of things. Interiors was not the usual kind of affair. So not only were people annoyed at me – their lovable comic figure – for having the pretension to try something like this, but giving them this kind of drama as well.” [4]

-Woody said felt the response to “Interiors’ was a “shame. ” [4]

-The reaction to the film put Woody in a bad mood. He grumped the critics were not charitable. [5]

-Woody had a hard time hiding his anxiety about “Interiors.” He refused autographs and was even more so removed from the public. His relationship with editor Ralph Rosenblum came to a head. Their decade long partnership came to an end. Some held Woody responsible for Rosenblum being snubbed for a Oscar nomination for the film. Rosenblum began publically taking credit for much of Woody’s best work. After he departed, Woody set up his own editing bay. By this time Woody had learned a great deal from Rosenblum about editing and began to take over most of the duties (with help from Rosenblum’s mid-twenties assistant, Susan Morse). [5]

-In the biography Woody Allen by Eric Lax, Allen's longtime editor Ralph Rosenblum comments on Allen's desire to make a serious film: "Even before he made a movie, he had that Bergmanesque streak. He was going to make funny movies and pull the rug at the very end. I wasn't shocked by the original end of Take the Money and Run (where Virgil is machine-gunned), but I thought it was stupid. But that's something he has carried through all his movies and he will finish his life making serious movies. He says that comedy writers sit at the children's table and he's absolutely right about that. He wants to be remembered as a serious writer, a serious filmmaker. He managed to rescue Interiors, much to his credit. He was against the wall. I think he was afraid. He was testy, he was slightly short-tempered. He was fearful. He thought he had a real bomb. But he managed to pull it out with his own work. The day the reviews came out, he said to me, 'Well, we pulled this one out by the short hairs, didn't we?' [3]

"
I feel the need to express something, but I don't know what it is I want to express. Or how to express it.
"
Joey - Mary Beth Hurt
Did You Know?

-This is the first film directed by Woody Allen in which he does not also appear as an actor. [1]

-Woody never considered playing a role in “Interiors.” He says, audiences see him as a comedic actor and as soon as he appeared on screen they would have laughed – essentially killing any dramatic tension. [4]

-Reportedly, Woody Allen was reluctant to discuss the movie's story during production. [1]

-UA’s Steve Bach called it a “bore” and ‘just hated it.” [5]

-The character of Eve (The Mother) was created by Woody Allen with 'Ingrid Bergman' in mind. He offered her the role, but she regretfully declined, as she was already committed to shoot Autumn Sonata in Norway with Ingmar Bergman. The part went to Geraldine Page instead, and then both she and Bergman were nominated for those films for Academy Awards and Golden Globes. Both lost out to Jane Fonda (who won for Coming Home) [1]

-Geraldine Page, contrary to her controlled and restrained character of Eve, performed the role in her own manner. This was not out of irony, but because Woody Allen felt she was a good enough actress to allow her to do it her own way: "Page was at that time our greatest actress in that age group. And she seemed perfect for the part. In general, I like to trust the actors - when an actor is doing something that's good and meaningful, I just like to leave the camera on them and let them be there and not bother them. And Page was that kind of actress, somebody to trust." [1]

Page herself, ironically, felt that the hardest part of her role was in meeting Allen's expectations.

-Featuring three sisters as central characters, this film was inspired by the work of playwright Anton Chekhov. [1]

-It was Diane Keaton who suggested the film's title to Woody Allen. [1]

-Film debut of Mary Beth Hurt. [1]

-Joel Schumacher's final film as a costume designer. [1]

-Woody and Gordon Wells almost called the film “Windows.” As the film opens and closes with them. [4]

-The picture has no music score except for brief excerpts of background music. [1]

-“Interiors” was  nominated for 5 Academy Award: Original Screenplay (Woody Allen), Director (Allen), Actress in a Leading Role (Geraldine Page), Actress in a Supporting Role (Maureen Stapleton), and Art Direction. It did not win any.

Did You Know?
"
You only live once, and once is enough if you play your cards right.
"
Pearl - Maureen Stapleton
"
I can't seem to shake the real implication of dying. It's terrifying. The intimacy of it embarrasses me.
"
Renata - Diane Keaton

Critical Reaction:

-NY Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote, “making ‘Interiors’ took great courage.” [5]

-No other critic gave Woody credit for courage or anything else for that matter. It was universally panned. [5]

-Roger Ebert said: "Yes, the opening does remind us of Bergman: The static shots, held for a moment's contemplation, of the rooms and possessions of a family. But then people enter the rooms, and their lives and voices have a particularly American animation; Woody Allen is right to say that his drama, "Interiors", belongs more in the tradition of Eugene O'Neill than of Ingmar Bergman. But what's this? Here we have a Woody Allen film, and we're talking about O'Neill and Bergman and traditions and influences? Yes, and correctly. Allen, whose comedies have been among the cheerful tonics of recent years, is astonishingly assured in his first drama.

-Woody Allen said of the film: : “It was mixed critical success here. It opened up, and there were some critics that liked it very much. But this was also the first time that I came up with a significant amount of negative press.” [4]

-English novelist Penelope Gilliatt (companion to NYT critic Vincent Canby) called the film “a giant step forward” in American cinema. [5]

- New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael said it reminded her of a “handbook of art-film mannerisms.” [5]

-Noteable film critic Stanley Kauffmann called it a “tour of the Ingmar Bergman Room at the Madame Tussaud’s Wax museum. [5]

-John Simon called the “disaster perpetrated on a gullible public by a man with a Bergman complex. The hackneyed dialogue, the derivative camera work, and the sorry acting of Diane Keaton (a vacuum cleaner in heat). [5]

-Interiors has a 79% Rotten Tomatoes rating as of 2021.

Review Headlines
A Departure for Woody Allen
-The New York Times
Interiors, Woody Allen’s depressing follow-up to Annie Hall, has no jokes, no music, and no Woody
-AV Club
When Woody Allen First Got Serious
-Slate
What would Woody Allen think of all this? Then you remember he wrote and directed it.
-Variety
A Fascinating New Step
-The Woody Allen Pages
Woody Allen’s Bergmanesque Melodrama
-Emanuel Levy
Even Allen Superfans Have a Hard Time with INTERIORS
-Cinapse
In Which We Are Disappointing To Our Mothers
-This Recoding
Before and After
Interiors
Movie poster of film before or after currently selected film
1988
Movie poster of film before or after currently selected film
1979