Strap on your leather gloves and jaunty hat, because it’s Diane Keaton’s 68th birthday this weekend! The legendary thespian will always be known for Best Actress-earned turn in Annie Hall, but she’s given us enough joy to last us a few cinematic lifetimes: Love and Death, Sleeper, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Manhattan, Reds, Baby Boom, Father of the Bride, Marvin’s Room, The First Wives Club, and hell, Something’s Gotta Give. She eked an Oscar nomination out of Something’s Gotta Give, people. The woman has earned her props. And her memoir? Is outstanding.
To celebrate her big day, I ask you: What’s the most underrated Diane Keaton performance?
I already hear your shouts of Crimes of the Heart, but I’m going with a simpler, lighter film: Manhattan Murder Mystery. Although I love Mia Farrow in Woody’s movies, Diane takes to his often oppressively neurotic dialogue with a lighter touch. In Manhattan Murder Mystery, her charisma with Woody is electrically charming, and it really doesn’t have to be. The movie qualifies as a caper, but Woody and Diane add an element of ratatat repartee that turns the movie into a modern-day Rear Window. Whenever we’re tired of the intrigue and suspicion, we can just enjoy the two romantic leads and their fun, real-seeming relationship. Frankly, I find this movie (and Diane’s performance) much more enjoyable than the much-vaunted Woody films of the same era like Husbands and Wives and Bullets Over Broadway. Those movies have their moments (namely Judy Davis’ hyperventilation), but they’re so broad. You can’t live in those movies, but you can feel cozy and at home in Manhattan Murder Mystery — even when Anjelica Huston appears to give Woody Allen poker lessons and set up an elaborate phone-bugging system near the climax of the movie.