Friday Follies [n., pl.] postings on Fridays about fashion and food in film from guest bloggers with impeccable taste.
It’s 1979, and I am in private school in New York City. So is Tracy, the character Mariel Hemingway plays in the movie Manhattan. Hemingway is a year older than me, taller, richer, and she’s starring in a Woody Allen movie. I, a want-to-be actress, am green with envy. She and Allen have dinner at Elaine’s! They ride through Central Park in a horse-drawn carriage! Tracy’s clothes are crisp and perfect; she’s going to study at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts; she lives in a doorman building on Gramercy Park, for god’s sake! I see the movie twice, to wallow in the iconography and privilege.
Fast forward to last month, when knocked up with a cold, I use Netflix on-demand. Oh, there’s Manhattan! I start the film… there they are in Elaine’s… and on the carriage ride… and in bed in Allen’s apartment, where he’s kvetching about the rent, when it strikes me (as it never did before) that the seventeen-year-old, doe-skinned Tracy is having sex with Woody Allen. No offence but… gross. I also notice that her clothes, which once seemed the epitome of WASP tailoring, in fact are: they’re dreadful. Standing in the lobby of her building in the film’s final scene, Hemingway wears a bulky blazer that would have fit her grandfather, and a sort of Brooks Brothers sack skirt. Who would commit this crime of fashion against a lanky young girl, but someone with a need to cut off her beauty at the knees when he realizes he cannot possess it? But of course, Allen worships Tracy much more than that, and gives her the last word. “Not everybody gets corrupted,” she tells him, his smile going rubbery with adoration. “You have to have a little faith in people.” Gershwin violins, up! Cue Manhattan skyline!
As every other person who’s seen the movie has always known, I was not wrong about Manhattan’s enchantment, I’d simply transferred it to Hemingway. And really, has there ever been a more glamorous shot than Allen and Diane Keaton sitting, as dawn breaks, beneath the 59th Street Bridge? —Nancy Rommelmann
Nancy Rommelmann has written for numerous publications including the LA Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times Magazine, and Bon Appétit. She is also a contributor to LA Observed, and the author of three books, including New York Times Bestseller The Real Real World, which she co-wrote with Hillary Johnson.
THE FOODINISTA’S NOTE: Nancy’s husband, Din Johnson, is owner of Ristretto Roasters in Portland, Oregon. Their coffee ROCKS! Check out their newest Williams Street location the next time in you’re in Portland—amazing space.
For previous FRIDAY FOLLIES, click HERE.