‘Annie Hall’: Woody Allen’s Famous ‘Cocaine Sneeze’ Was a Complete Accident

Woody Allen is a controversial figure in Hollywood today. He has been accused of some serious misconduct by members of his own family, among others. All the accusations have undoubtedly tarnished Allen’s legacy; his latest movieA Rainy Day in New York, was even pulled from some platforms in the US thanks to the blowback. But it’s hard for fans to forget the movies they’ve already seen, especially when some of Allen’s films are so iconic. His 1977 hit Annie Hall was probably the most iconic of all, and one infamous scene was as accidental as it seemed on-screen.

(L-R) Annie Hall, Woody Allen, Alvy Singer, and Tony Roberts standing in an outdoor basement entrance
(L-R) Annie Hall, Woody Allen, Alvy Singer, and Tony Roberts in Annie Hall | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

‘Annie Hall’ is Woody Allen’s highest grossing movie 

Although Annie Hall is intended to be a romantic comedy, it ended up breaking the mold. It’s as funny as any romantic comedy of its day, but the romance depicted is realistic, pain and all. Allen struggled with the genre of the film. Earlier versions had more fantastical elements and even a mystery. Despite rocky beginnings, the movie ended up being Allen’s highest-grossing film of all time. 

Annie Hall made upwards of $38 million at the box office back in 1977, according to Mental Floss. Allen has had higher grossing films since then, including Manhattan and Midnight in Paris. But when adjusted for inflation, Annie Hall actually made $10 million more than Manhattan, Allen’s next highest-grossing film. 

It bucked a lot of the trends of its day. Allen didn’t include the classic romantic comedy tropes in his movie, and he also made the scenes really long for 1977. Each scene in the movie is an average of 14 seconds when other films at the time were hitting four and seven seconds per scene. 

The famous cocaine sneeze in ‘Annie Hall’ was an accident

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Ultimately, Annie Hall details the trials and tribulations of a modern relationship, from the exciting to the mundane. One famous scene is a perfect blend of comedy, banality, and reality. That’s the famous cocaine scene. In it, Annie and Alvy are sitting on a couch with their friends. The subject of cocaine comes up. While Annie is open to trying it, Alvy has always been “down” on it, according to Annie. 

Alvy doesn’t want to try cocaine, but his friends offer it to him anyway. The scene is funny, even before the now-infamous sneeze. Alvy and his friend are joking about cocaine, and Diane Keaton’s laughter seems so genuine. Alvy finally agrees to try the stuff, but when he picks up his friend’s stash, he sneezes in it, sending the expensive white powder up into his friends’ surprised faces.

The sneeze wasn’t actually part of the script. Allen sneezed by accident, but it was so hilarious, and so in character for Alvy, that he kept it. 

‘Annie Hall’ was emblematic of its era 

Keaton started a fashion trend with her Annie Hall outfits. The star was a big fan of menswear and insisted on wearing her own clothes for the film. That didn’t sit well with Annie Hall’s costume designer. The designer wanted Keaton to wear clothes more traditional for a romantic comedy, according to the Boston Globe. Keaton’s menswear look wasn’t in at the time, but she brought it to the forefront of the fashion world when Annie Hall became a runaway hit.

Aside from starting a fashion trend, Annie Hall also had some impressive cameos. Truman Capote, the writer of In Cold Bloodactually appeared in the movie. He probably had one of the most ingenious cameos of all times. Capote was a cultural icon of the 1970s. In one scene, Annie and Alvy are people watching in the park. Alvy says that one passerby is “The winner of the Truman Capote lookalike contest.” The man was actually Capote himself. Including him in the film is just another reason why Annie Hall was representative of its era.