Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Stardust Memories (1980)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Stardust Memories (1980)

In writer/director Woody Allen's self-indulgent, often incoherent, impressionistic and dark comedy - an homage to Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963) and Sturges' Sullivan's Travels (1941), with Gordon Willis' harsh and washed-out B/W cinematography:

  • the hysterical and nightmarish sequence on a train (the proposed ending of the protagonist's latest work, in which he was trapped) with a collection of hopeless Fellini-esque "grotesques" filmed in wide-angle closeup
  • the demanding groupies - at a reluctantly-attended weekend's retrospective film seminar held at the Stardust Hotel beach resort in New Jersey - where pretentious, successful, and much-revered comedic filmmaker Sandy Bates (Woody Allen) answered questions during a forum and was harrassed with:
    - nonsensical questions ("Why are all comedians hostile or latent homosexuals?, or "Have you ever had intercourse with any type of animal?")
    - requests for autographs or sex: ("I drove all the way from Bridgeport to make it with you...empty sex is better than no sex, right?")
    - and proposals for ridiculous films from aspiring film-makers: ("It's a comedy based on that whole Guyana mass suicide!")
  • the studio's uplifting "Jazz Heaven" altered ending to one of his Berman-esque-like dramas
  • the fantasy sequence in the countryside of Sandy hearing a Martian alien advising him to stop taking himself so seriously and to go back to making comedy films: ("And, incidentally, you're also not Superman. You're a comedian. You want to do mankind a real service? Tell funnier jokes")
  • the ending twist/plot device in the Stardust Hotel projection room, where Sandy was told: "Why do all comedians turn out to be sentimental bores?"; suddenly, Sandy fainted from "nervous tension," after a disturbing hallucinatory fantasy of being shot by an ultimately-adoring, fervent fan with a .32 caliber pistol ("Sandy? You know, you're my hero") (eerily presaging the John Lennon murder by Mark David Chapman shortly thereafter)
  • the scene of Sandy recalling his favorite loving and emotional moment one spring with former bipolar, neurotic and unbalanced lover Dorrie (Charlotte Rampling) accompanied by Louis Armstrong's recording of Stardust: (""It was one of those great spring days, a Sunday, and you knew summer would be coming soon. And I remember that morning Dorrie and I had gone for a walk in the park. We came back to the apartment. We were just sort of sitting around. And I put on a record of Louis Armstrong, which was music that I grew up loving. It was very, very pretty, and I happened to glance over, and I saw Dorrie sitting there. And I remember thinking to myself how terrific she was and how much I loved her. And I don't know. I guess it was the combination of everything, the sound of that music, and the breeze, and how beautiful Dorrie looked to me. And for one brief moment, everything just seemed to come together perfectly, and I felt happy. Almost indestructible, in a way. And it's funny, that simple little moment of contact moved me in a very, very profound way.")
  • in a train compartment with Isobel, (Marie-Christine Barrault), Sandy's married French mistress, he begged her to stay with him, by claiming that he had thought of a new and better ending for his film - the film being watched - about being on a train with her and having a "good sentimental" relationship with her; she thought otherwise: "You like those dark women with all their problems...They give you a hard time and you like"; eventually, he convinced her to give him "a huge, big wet kiss" - it "would go a long way to selling this idea"; he then added: "I'm very serious. I think this is a big, big finish, you know?"; the train pulled out of the station as they hugged and kissed - and the audience clapped its approval of the film's coda
  • the plot twist -- all of the characters exited the theatre - leaving Sandy alone with an empty screen and chairs, signifying that the entire movie was a 'film-within-a-film' being screened at Bates' (or Woody Allen's?) film festival/charity event


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