Stardust Memories

This article is about the Woody Allen film. For the Gundam series, see Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.
Stardust Memories

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Woody Allen
Produced by Robert Greenhut
Charles H. Joffe
Jack Rollins
Written by Woody Allen
Starring Woody Allen
Charlotte Rampling
Jessica Harper
Marie-Christine Barrault
Tony Roberts
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Edited by Susan E. Morse
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • September 26, 1980 (1980-09-26)
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $10,389,003

Stardust Memories is a 1980 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Woody Allen and starring himself, Charlotte Rampling, Jessica Harper, Marie-Christine Barrault and Sharon Stone in her film debut. The film is about a filmmaker who recalls his life and his loves - the inspirations for his films - while attending a retrospective of his work.[2] Allen considers this to be one of his best films, along with The Purple Rose of Cairo and Match Point.[3] The film is shot in black and white and is reminiscent of Federico Fellini's (1963), which it parodies.

The film was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for Best Comedy written directly for screen. Allen denies that this film is autobiographical and has expressed regret that audiences interpreted it as such.[4] "[Critics] thought that the lead character was me," the director is quoted as saying in Woody Allen on Woody Allen.[5] "Not a fictional character but me, and that I was expressing hostility towards my audience. That was in no way the point of the film. It was about a character who is obviously having a sort of nervous breakdown and, in spite of success, has come to a point in his life where he is having a bad time."


The film follows famous filmmaker Sandy Bates, who is plagued by fans who prefer his "earlier, funnier movies" to his more recent artistic efforts, while he tries to reconcile his conflicting attraction to two very different women: the earnest intellectual Daisy and the more maternal Isobel. Meanwhile, he is also haunted by memories of his ex-girlfriend, the unstable Dorrie.



The conflict between the maternal, nurturing woman and the earnest, usually younger one, is a recurring theme in Allen's films. Like many of Allen's films, Stardust Memories incorporates several jazz recordings including those by such notables as Louis Armstrong, Django Reinhardt, and Chick Webb. The film's title alludes to the famous take of "Stardust" recorded in 1931 by Armstrong, wherein the trumpeter sings "oh, memory" three times in succession. However, it is the master take that plays in the movie during the sequence where Sandy is remembering the best moment of his life: looking at Dorrie while listening to Armstrong's recording of the song.

The film deals with issues regarding religion, God, and philosophy; especially existentialism, psychology, symbolism, wars and politics. It is also about realism, relationships, and death. It refers to many questions about the meaning of life. It also ruminates on the role that luck plays in life, a theme Allen would revisit in Match Point.


Filming locations include:

From the sleevenotes of MGM's 2000 DVD release: "Shot on location in the fall of 1979, Stardust Memories may look as though it takes place in a Victorian-style seaside hotel, but it was actually shot at the Ocean Grove Great Auditorium and the Methodist Episcopal Conference Center and Concert Hall in New Jersey. Most of the interiors, including the bedroom scenes, were shot in a vacant Sears Roebuck building, but the crew also recreated a vintage train at Filmways Studio in Harlem. To reproduce the movement of a rail car, the whole train was mounted on jacks and gently jostled back and forth."


The film sharply divided both audiences and critics, with many Allen fans proclaiming it his best picture or among his worst.[8][9] In October 2013, the film was voted by the Guardian readers as the eighth best film directed by Woody Allen.[10]

In Diane Jacobs' But We Need the Eggs: The Magic of Woody Allen (St Martin's Press, 1982), the director is quoted as saying: "Shortly after Stardust Memories opened, John Lennon was shot by the very guy who had asked him for his autograph earlier in the day… This is what happens with celebrities: one day people love you; the next day they want to kill you."

Box office

Stardust Memories opened in North America on September 26, 1980 to an onslaught of bad reviews. At 29 theatres, it grossed $326,779 ($11,268 per screen) in its opening weekend. The film failed to attract more than Allen's loyal fanbase in the long run, and it grossed $10,389,003 by the end of its run. The film's budget was $10 million.[11]



  1. "STARDUST MEMORIES (AA)". British Board of Film Classification. 1980-10-23. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
  2. "Stardust Memories". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  3. Lax, Eric (November 18, 2007). Conversations With Woody Allen. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-375-41533-5. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  4. Nichols, Mary P. (1998). Reconstructing Woody: Art, Love, and Life in the Films of Woody Allen. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 4. ISBN 0-8476-8990-5.
  5. see Further Reading section
  6. "Full cast and crew for Stardust Memories". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  7. "Filming locations for Stardust Memories". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 26, 2012.
  8. Janet Maslin (September 26, 1980). "The Acid Humor of Woody Allen's 'Stardust Memories'". The New York Times.
  9. Dave Kehr. "Stardust Memories: About the DVD". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2008.
  10. "The 10 best Woody Allen films". The Guardian. London. October 4, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  11. "Stardust Memories". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-02-16.
  12. "Soundtracks for Stardust Memories". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 26, 2012.

13. ^ Zinsser, William. "My Stardust Memories". The American Scholar. Retrieved April 19, 2012.

Further reading

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