In his recent American Masters special, Woody Allen reveals that he was convinced Manhattan would be a commercial and critical failure — he went so far as to propose a deal to his studio, offering to direct his next project for free if they would shelve the film. The studio, thankfully, took a pass and released the smart and shrewdly observed glimpse into the tangled lives of neurotic sophisticates who dwell in the strange and storied realm that is the Upper East Side. Time has been exceptionally kind to the film, though it’s still almost inconceivable to think how accepting audiences were of its central relationship: twice-divorced 42-year-old Isaac Davis (Allen) dating 17-year-old Tracy (Mariel Hemingway). Of course, there’s another great romance going on, and to help develop and share this story, Allen was ably assisted by legendary director of photography Gordon Willis. Their famous opening montage, with its achingly evocative shots of the Big Apple, is a valentine (idolized “all out of proportion”) to a great city.